How to stay safe during a lightning storm

It's lightning safety awareness week and Texas is no stranger to lightning and thunderstorms.

As a state, we see the most lightning in the entire country. Last year, Texas saw nearly 70 million lightning strikes, five and a half million hit the ground. That works out to nearly 21 lightning strikes per square mile across the entire state.

Lightning can be dangerous if you don't take the right precautions.

The easiest way to stay safe is just to stay indoors, your house, apartment, or workplace is more than enough protection from lightning. If you can't get indoors, get out of open fields and take shelter, a covered patio will do perfectly. If that's not available, the next best place to take shelter is your car.

Your car is safe, not because of the rubber tires, but because of the metal bodywork. If your car gets struck, your car becomes what's known as a Faraday Cage and directs all the electricity around the outside of the car and straight to the ground. 

Your tires don't play a role in protecting you at all since air is a much better insulator than rubber, and lightning just jumped through more than a mile of air to get to the ground. After that, a quarter-inch of rubber won't make a difference.

Lightning will always seek out the shortest trip to the ground. That means the tallest thing will get struck more frequently than anything around. The skinnier the tower, the more likely it is to be struck.

That also means a lone tree in the middle of a field is a prime target for lightning.  It is important to never seek shelter under a tree. If lightning strikes, the energy, and heat can instantly vaporize all the water in the tree, causing it to explode. 

An easy way to remember, when thunder roars, head indoors.