When a thunderstorm is rolling in, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to stay safe. One of the most dangerous places to be during a storm is outside in the open, and though many people realize this and head indoors, some might only be able to take shelter inside their vehicle.
Considering the fact that metal will readily conduct the massive voltages associated with a lightning strike is it possible to stay safe inside your vehicle during a lightning storm?
Yes, you can keep safe in a car during a thunder storm. Make sure all doors and windows are shut, and that you don’t touch any metal component or electronics controls inside the vehicle.
The metal bodywork and frame of the vehicle should conduct the electricity down across the tires and harmlessly into the ground. Make sure you stay inside the vehicle until the storm has passed.
When you are dealing with the power of lightning you have no room for error. Keep reading to learn more about taking shelter correctly inside a vehicle.
Not All Vehicles Can Protect You from Lightning
There are a lot of variables when it comes to staying safe during a lightning storm. The type of vehicle you have, the materials used in its construction and where you are located all play into how well you’ll fare if lightning does strike.
The body of the car will act as Faraday cage, meaning that the electricity will flow around (or through) the metal exterior and not through the interior of the car where you are.
This is why it’s important to have all windows and doors shut so that no outside air or moisture can enter the vehicle. You also want to avoid touching any metal component inside the vehicle as this could provide a pathway for electricity to reach you.
This includes things like door handles, gear sticks, and the steering wheel.
If you’re in a convertible, or your car doesn’t have a metal body, then it’s best to find another shelter. The same is true if you are located outside of the vehicle; if you can’t get inside it, find some other form of cover; merely touching the car won’t help at all!
Open Topped Vehicles, Convertible and Motorcycles Won’t Protect You from Lightning
It’s important to remember that a metal body is not the only factor in whether or not your car will protect you from lightning.
The shape of the car is also important, and vehicles that have an open top or are convertibles offer no protection at all. This includes motorcycles; if you’re on one during a thunderstorm, get off and find shelter immediately.
If you are in an open topped vehicle or convertible, the best thing to do is get out and find some other form of shelter. This might be difficult if you’re caught in a storm while driving, but it’s important to remember that your safety is at risk.
Lightning Can Hit Your Car and Jump to Someone Nearby
Even if you are taking all the necessary precautions, it’s important to remember that lightning can still hit your car.
When this happens, the electricity will jump from your car to any other object or person nearby. This is why it’s so important to stay inside until the storm has completely passed; you don’t want to be standing near anything that could potentially get struck by lightning!
It’s also worth noting that a metal frame does not always mean a car will be safe during a lightning storm.
If you’re in an area where there are lots of tall trees, for example, there is a greater chance that one of those trees will get hit by lightning and send energy flowing into your car anyway from across the ground.
Do Not Touch Any Electrical Components or Controls in the Vehicle
Aside from avoiding contact with metal components in the vehicle, also refrain from touching electrical components and controls, too. This includes light bulbs, radio dials, touch screens, power adapters and the like.
You might not necessarily be shocked or electrocuted through these components, but they might rapidly heat up or slag under the load, burning you severely.
Keep Your Hands off the Wheel and in Your Lap
When you’re taking shelter inside your vehicle during a lightning storm, it’s important to keep your hands off the steering wheel and in your lap. You might be tempted to grip the wheel tightly as the storm rages outside, but this is a bad idea.
The USNLSI (U.S. National Lightning Safety Institute) advises that the chances of you being shocked from lightning via contact with the steering wheel, the chances are never zero!
Will a Lightning Strike Destroy My Car?
Lightning strikes are incredibly powerful, but they won’t necessarily destroy your car. In some cases, the damage will be basically cosmetic; things like holes in the metal, singed paint, blown out windows and melted plastic.
However, it’s important to remember that every lightning strike is different. This is still a mysterious and mercurial force we are dealing with! Some vehicles are basically incinerated or show apparent blast damage from a strike.
Electronics, as you might imagine, often fare the worst with either serious malfunctions or total loss of wiring and other components being common.
Even more peculiarly, some vehicles hit by lightning exhibit “gremlins” mysterious behavior and malfunction that is difficult to track down even with a factory diagnostics suite!
At the end of the day, if your vehicle is destroyed by a lightning strike that it protected you from, count your blessings!
Yes, You Can Surviva Inside Your Car
Your car might offer some protection from a lightning storm, it’s not a 100 percent guarantee. You need to take the necessary precautions and follow the safety guidelines outlined in this post if you want to make sure you’re as safe as possible.
Stay inside until the storm has passed; keep your hands off any electrical components or controls to improve your chances!