What Happens If Youre Struck By Lightning

Lightning strikes some place on earth about 100 times every second. That's three billion times a year! Consider that, your chances of being struck are actually amazingly low. So here in the U.S where we have pretty good statistics your chances of being struck in a single year are about 1 in 100,000 and about 1 in 3,000 over your whole lifetime. These odds can vary a lot depending on where you live and what your habits are, of course. Like if you live in Tampa and you like to play golf in July and you have no fear of storms your odds of getting zapped are... yeah you're stupid! But there are actually two different types of lightning strikes: Direct and indirect. Direct is like Zeus aiming at the bullseye on the top of your head. it also occurs if you're holding on to something like a flagpole, for example, that is struck and it conducts the energy into you. Indirect strikes hit the ground and then run up your legs. More people are injured in ground strikes because the energy in them can connect to multiple people at once. So while the direct from above strike can hit a person in a crowd and leave everyone else alone, indirect strikes could kill a whole herd of cows in seconds. And yeah, a lightning strike is no joke it's a 300 kilavolt burst of energy that can heat the air around it to 27,000 degrees celsius which is about five times hotter than the surface of the freaking sun. So, what exactly happens when the fire of five suns zips through your flesh and blood? Well, worst case of course, you die. If the electrical current gets up in your skull, it can actually cook your brain like that famous egg in the anti-drug frying pan. But the most common immediate cause of death by lightning is cardiac arrest, as the shock instantly stops the strike victim's heart. Surprisingly though, 70 to 90 percent of lightning strike victims survive. I'm not saying they get back up and continue their game of golf unscathed, because the resulting injuries can be severe but if you're struck, you're more likely to survive than just die there on the spot. And if you do survive, here's some of what you can expect: The force of the bolt leaving your feet could literally blow your shoes off. Meanwhile, the super heat of the strike could shred your clothing or set it on fire. And if you're wearing a lot of jewelry, or say, an underwire bra, all that metal could channel the electrical current and sear your skin. The lightning bolt itself is probably going to leave deep wounds where it enters and exits your body, so you're gonna get burned. You might also end up with possibly the coolest scar on the planet. The unique physics of electrical discharge leaves branch-like marks called "Lichtenberg scarring" which occur as blood vessels burst. And the bizzare fractcal scars actually look like lightning. It's like getting a free souveneir tattoo. With that kind of electricity coursing through your body you're also likely to end up with some damaged or totally fried nerves which could lead to permanent numbness, the inability to register temperatures and partial paralysis. Some strike survivors develop muscle twitches as well, similar to those in Parkinson's patients. Also, not technically an effect of the lightning, your eardrums might rupture from the thunder. For many strike survivors it's actually the initial trauma that's the easiest part of the whole ordeal. The mental and physical after effects are often plentiful and bizzare: Memory loss, sleep disorders, tremors, loss of balance, intense headaches, chronic irritability, and resulting depression are all common side effects. Some of these symptoms may take months after the initial strike to manifest. Because being struck is so rare, many doctors don't know how to help their patients. This complaint, along with higher suicide rates in strike victims has led to the formation of various lightning strike survivor support groups. Roy Sullivan holds the the record for receiving the most lightning strikes, he was struck by lightning seven times during his career in the forest service. But though he survived the strikes initially, they may have eventually killed him when he took his own life likely due to depression caused by repeated shocks to his brain. Thanks for watching this SciShow dose if you have any questions or comments or ideas, we're on Facebook and Twitter, and down in the comments below. And if you want to keep getting smarter with us here at SciShow, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.