Thunderstorm season is already well underway, buzz people, and it’s got your number. YOUR number.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA (a source for some of the museum’s Science on a Sphere programming),”the biggest misconception people have about getting struck by lightning… is that it won't happen to them.” In fact, according to my personal calculations (based largely on repeated viewings of Back to the Future), a person is more likely to get struck by lightning than to get married. It depends on the person, though.
Living with the near-certainty of being stricken by lightning, or, as I prefer to say, being the victim of a “lightning attack,” we must all take certain precautions to protect ourselves (however futile the odds might make it seem).
NOAA presents the following tips:
1) Understand the weather patters in your area – find out when thunderstorms are most likely to occur, and don’t plan any regular flag football matches around that time.
2) If you’re outside, go inside.
3) If you’re inside, avoid windows, as well as anything that could carry acharge from a lightning strike into the house. This means plumbing, hard-wired electrical equipment, and land-line phones. Even something like a videogame console can get you zapped, if you’re playing when lighting strikes. It might be a good way to cure an addiction, though.
4) Avoid concrete walls. They often have metal reinforcement.
5) As much as you might want to, don’t go driving your soft-top convertible during a thunderstorm. It’s not safe.
6) Stay away from tall objects, even if they seem to provide shelter. Lightning hates tall things.
7) Wait a good thirty minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going back outside.
Useful suggestions, but not necessarily complete. I, JGordon, offer these tips:
1) Don’t offend lightning. Making sassy comments about lightning’s age, mother, or dropping out of community college are a sure fire way to get smoked. “Your mom’s so…” BAM! Like that. So watch your mouth.
2) Don’t hang out in lightning’s neighborhood. Avoid dark, towering clouds, K-Mart parking lots, and state park campgrounds. Especially if you’re alone.
3) Don’t ever assume that lightning is unarmed. Lightning is always packing heat. And, by heat, I mean lightning.
4) Before leaving the house each morning, throw away a dollar bill for lightning. If you live in an apartment, this isn’t strictly necessary.
5) Lightning is attracted to bright colors and high-contrast patterns. So wearing Zubas, in the rain is essentially a death wish. As if that’s anything new.
6) Lightning has the mentality of a wild animal (like a wolf or a zebra) that hates you. Accept this, and act accordingly.
If you follow all these tips to the letter, your chances of getting struck by lightning will probably fall to being about equal with your chances of accidentally buying the wrong brand of corn chips while shopping for groceries.
NOAA also reminds people that “lightning is a nervous system injury; it's not a burn injury.” It can cause lasting damage, from memory loss and depression to chronic pain and paralysis. So, if you do get attacked by lightning, it’s best to have a good lie-down after calling 9-1-1.