Lightning is an electrostatic charge and is deceivingly beautiful in a nightime sky. A bolt of lightning is 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit which is 3 times hotter than the surface of the sun. There are approximately 3,000,000 strikes per day around the world. The electrical energy emitted from a single lightning bolt can power an 100 watt light bulb for 90 days. In other words, lightning is a very powerful, natural phenomenon.

“Lightning never strikes twice in the same place” is a myth. For example, the Empire State Building is struck about 23 times per year. Venezuela has the most lightning strikes annually than any other country. If you live in the U. S. and are struck by lightning, your chances of survival are 90%, if CPR is administered. The width of a lightning bolt is about 2-3 cm. and 2-3 miles in length. Since lightning is caused by opposite charges in clouds (positive and negative), it can exist in many, different places. For example, it has been seen in volcanic eruptions, during forest fires and hurricanes, in heavy snowstorms, and most frequently in thunderstorms.

If you find yourself in a thunderstorm, seek shelter immediately. Do not seek shelter under a tree. Tall trees are frequently struck by lightning, and you do not want to be standing under tree that gets hit by lightning. Also, stay away from light poles, and any other tall objects. Remember that water is a conductor of electricity, so you want to move away from any water. If you want to find out how far away the storm is, simply count the seconds between the lightning and the clap of thunder, and then divide by 5. This will give you approximately how many miles the storm is from you. This may give you time to find shelter. The safest place to seek shelter is inside your home, away from windows and doors.

While it is true that Benjamin Franklin experimented with lightning in 1752 by flying a kite with a key attached to the string during a thunderstorm, it is not true that he was electrocuted. Instead, the kite took the charge of electricity. In doing so, he proved that lightning existed as an electrical charge, even though electrical forces had been recognized prior to his experiment for thousands of years. Franklin, however, is credited with proving the connection between lightning and electricity.

All in all, lightning is a very interesting phenomenon to observe. However, it is quite dangerous to go out into a thunderstorm as Benjamin Franklin did. Instead, stay inside and appreciate the wonder of nature from a safe distance.


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