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Storm Week: When Lightning Strikes

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Lightning brightens the sky on a stormy night.  Many call it a light show, free of charge by Mother Nture. However, you could pay in other ways.

“She thought she heard a lightning strike pretty close,” says homeowner Claudio Guerra, speaking about the woman house-sitting Wednesday night.

A lightning bolt cost Claudio Guerra his million-dollar home. He received the call at 4 o’clock Thursday morning. It was burnt to the ground.

“It was pretty much a brand new home, a lifetime of memories and things you collect [are gone],” he adds.

But luckily it didn’t cost Guerra or his family their life.  For that they’re grateful, but every year lightning kills about 90 people in the country.

It’s dangerous because it’s unpredictable.  Nobody knows when and where it will strike. It’s best to prepare yourself in advance.

Homes sitting at the top of a hill are most likely to get struck by lightning, which is why some homes install lightning rods for protection.

Bill Simpson of Smokestack Lightning Inc. explains the rods. They are only 3/8 in. thick of solid copper. However, it’s strong enough to protect a house or building from top to bottom.

“It can go through a cable instead of through the materials in the house,” says Simpson.

And as always, knowledge is power. The more you know about how to keep safe, the less likely you are to get hurt.

Some common lightning myths:

MYTH 1: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

FACT: Lightning can strike the same place many times, especially objects that are tall and isolated.

MYTH 2:  If outside during a storm, you should hide under a tree.

FACT: Beneath a tree is one of the worst places you can go outside. The right thing to do is seek shelter right away.

MYTH 3: In your vehicle you may think rubber tires protect you from lightning.

FACT: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it’s the metal exterior that protects you, not the rubber tires.  Convertibles, motorcycles, and bicycles offer no protection.

MYTH 4:  If you touch a person whose been struck by lightning, you too will be electrocuted.


FACT: That’s a myth. The human body doesn’t store electricity. It’s safe to tough a lightning victim to give first aid.


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