5 Ways Lightning Strikes People


Village People.

Direct Strike

A person struck directly by lightning becomes a part of the main lightning discharge channel.

Most often, direct strikes occur to victims who are in open areas.

Side Flash

A side flash (also called a side splash) occurs when lightning strikes a taller object near the victim and a portion of the current jumps from taller object to the victim.

Side flashes generally occur when the victim is within a foot or two away of the object that is struck.

Most often, side flash victims have taken shelter under a tree to avoid rain or hail. 

Ground Current

When lightning strikes a tree or other object, much of the energy travels outward from the strike in and along the ground surface. This is known as the ground current.

Anyone outside near a lightning strike is potentially a victim of ground current. In addition, ground current can travels in garage floors with conductive materials.

Because the ground current affects a much larger area than the other causes of lightning casualties, contact point farthest from the lightning.


Lightning can travel long distances in wires or other metal surfaces.

Metal does not attract lightning, but it provides a path for the lightning to follow.

Most indoor lightning casualties and some outdoor casualties are due to conduction. Whether inside or outside, anyone in contact with anything connected to metal wires, plumbing, or metal surfaces that extend outside is at risk.

This includes anything that plugs into an electrical outlet, water faucets and showers, corded phones, etc…..

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