Feature Article

All About Lightning ..

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According to the National Crime Record Bureau, more than 2,000 people die every year due to lightning strikes. And it is the most underrated killer. Hence, awareness of lightning strikes is very important to save precious lives.

Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by an imbalance between storm clouds, clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves. Benjamin Franklin in 1752 showed the essentiality of lightning phenomena. Lightning is a bright flash of electricity produced by a thunderstorm.

All thunderstorms that produce lightning are very dangerous. Globally, 40–50 flashes of lightning occur every second, or 1.4 billion flashes per year. In India, coastal areas like TN, AP, Gujarat, and Goa are more prone to lightning.

Each lightning bolt can travel over 5 miles, reach temperatures of around 30,000 degrees Celsius, and contain 100 million electric volts.

All About Lightning

  • Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall event.
  • One is in danger from lightning if one can hear thunder.
  • Lightning injuries can lead to permanent disabilities or death. On average, at least 10% of lightning strike victims die.

Importance of Lightning  

  • An electrical balance between the Earth and the atmosphere is maintained.
  • Lightning helps to dissolve unusable nitrogen in water, which creates natural fertiliser for the plant.
  • Lightning produces ozone, which is located in the upper atmosphere.

The Effects of Lightning

Destroys crop fields and trees entirely, causes rock disintegration and shifts boulders, causes temporary blindness and causes hearing problems, leads to power failure and major power outages, and fire risk in homes.

Medical Effects:

Cardiac arrest, serious burn and nerve injury, dizziness, balance problem.

In the Indian context, according to the National Crime Record Bureau, more than 2000 people die every year due to lightning strikes.

Lightning Safety Rules

Avoid open fields, water, and houses made of straw. Don’t be near or on tallest object.

Stay away from tall, isolated trees, towers or utility poles, and metal conductors such as wires and fences.

*If in a forest, shelter under small trees.

*Do not lie on the ground or stay and run in a group; be separated.

*Do not use electrical appliances during lightning.

Compiled by Dr RH Patil, nodal officer, GKMS Units, UAS Dharwad.

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