Lightning and Cell Phones: Debunking A Myth

Contrary to recent media reports, NOAA lightning experts state that lightning is not attracted to people carrying cell phones. 

"Cell phones, small metal items, jewelry, etc., do not attract lightning. Nothing attracts lightning. Lightning tends to strike taller objects," said John Jensenius, a NOAA National Weather Service lightning expert. "People are struck because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wrong place is anywhere outside. The wrong time is anytime a thunderstorm is nearby."

If you are outdoors and see darkening skies or hear thunder, seek a sturdy, enclosed shelter immediately, such as a building or hardtop automobile. Don’t wait for rain to start falling to seek shelter from the storm—by then it could be too late. Lightning causalities frequently occur before the rain begins and soon after the rain ends. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before returning outside.

For more information about lightning, please visit the National Weather Service Lightning Safety web site:

The web site, Struck By Lightning, keeps a database of lightning strikes, as well as other safety and research information.

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