Skip to main content

Health library

Do you believe these lightning myths?

A stormy sky with a bolt of lightning.

July 24, 2021—Every year in the U.S., lightning strikes the ground about 25 million times. That helps make lightning one of the most dangerous weather hazards of all.

It's also a natural phenomenon that's commonly misunderstood. Here are some mistaken beliefs about lightning and the truth behind them—from the National Weather Service and other experts.

MYTH: It's very common for a person to be struck by lightning.

FACT: It's rare, but it happens more than you might think. About 300 people are struck by lightning every year in the U.S. About 30 of those strikes are fatal.

MYTH: Some thunderstorms don't produce lightning.

FACT: All thunderstorms produce lightning. If you can hear thunder, you need to get to a safe place fast.

MYTH: Once the major part of a storm has passed by, the lightning danger has passed too.

FACT: Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from a storm's rainfall. You may only see blue skies above, but if you hear thunder, lightning is an immediate threat.

MYTH: If you see someone struck by lightning, you'll experience an electrical charge if you touch them.

FACT: People struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge. And they need your help, particularly if they're not breathing or in cardiac arrest. Call 911. Begin rescue breathing or CPR if you know how. Use an automatic external defibrillator if one is available. And if possible, move yourself and the victim to a safer place because—myth buster—lightning can strike the same place twice.

Get more lightning safety tips—for outdoors and indoors.

Read more breaking news Related stories