Lightning Safety: Definition of a Safe Enclosed Metal Vehicle


An example of an enclosed metal vehicle which is safe to be in is your normal everyday hard-topped vehicle, such as a car, SUV, minivan, bus, etc (soft-topped convertibles are not safe) . If you seek shelter in your vehicle, it is important that you are completely in the vehicle, with all the doors closed and windows rolled up. Do not be in contact with any metal surfaces.

It is suggested that if you are driving while lightning activity is occurring, that you slow down or find a safe place to pull off the roadway. A lightning flash hitting the vehicle could startle you and may cause temporary blindness, causing you to lose control of the vehicle. This is especially true at night.

Those people who have communication radios in their vehicles, such as HAM radio operators, should NOT use them when lightning is nearby. Lightning striking the vehicle, especially the antennae, could cause serious injury if you are talking on the radio or holding the microphone at the time of the flash. Emergency officials such as police officers, firefighters, security officers, etc., should use extreme caution using their corded radio equipment when lightning is in the area (cordless communication devices are safe)

Farm machinery and construction machinery is safe IF the cab is surrounded by metal and glass. IT IS IMPORTANT that the operators are not in contact with any interior metal surfaces of their vehicle. Operators should use extreme caution using their corded radio equipment when lightning is in the area (cordless communication devices are safe).

Although it is very safe to be in a vehicle which is struck by lightning, there is a possibility that the vehicle itself may be damaged (especially the electronics) by the lightning flash. Vehicles struck by lightning are known to have flat tires the next day. This occurs because the lightning "punctures" tiny small holes in the tires. There have been occasions when vehicles catch fire after being struck by lightning (however, there is no modern day documented cases of vehicles "exploding" due to a lightning flash).

Why is an enclosed hard topped metal vehicle safe to be in during lightning activity?

Vehicles which are NOT safe to be in during lightning activity

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