Kill Zone: A reminder about lightning safety with Meteorologist - | WBTV Charlotte

Kill Zone: A reminder about lightning safety with Meteorologist Eric Thomas

(WBTV file photo) (WBTV file photo)
WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas (Kristen Hampton | WBTV) WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas (Kristen Hampton | WBTV)

It is the second deadliest form of weather in the United States. No one stands outside in a tornado, a hurricane, or a flood, so why do people stand outside during a lightning storm?

“I still see people out there on the golf course or just walking around when there’s lightning within a mile of them and they don’t seem to be bothered by it,” said WBTV's Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas.

Thomas knows all too well the effects of the massive voltage ripping through the sky. Every year in the United States, 50 people are killed by lightning. Far more survive, but are left with debilitating injuries.

“Lightning, on average, can be anywhere from 20 million to 100 million volts,” Thomas said, reminding people that a standard home wall outlet only carries 110 volts.

Thomas says most people aren’t killed by a direct strike from a lightning bolt. He suggests people consider what’s called a “kill zone.”

“If you’re outside, you need to imagine yourself in a kill zone, 50 feet across, imagine that circle,” Thomas said.

Thomas says the overwhelming majority of lightning strikes that kill people come from a bolt striking the ground or something around them. That current travels through the ground or the air and into your body.

So if lightning strikes anywhere inside this 50-foot circle he mentioned, Thomas offers a strong warning: “Chances are you’re dead.”

It may sound morbid, but it’s a good reminder of just how deadly lightning can be. If you’re outside, near a window or under an awning, imagine that 50-foot “kill zone.” 

Lightning might not strike you directly, but if it strikes anywhere in that zone, your chances of survival are slim.

It’s something good to remember - the best place to be when you hear thunder is inside.

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