LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There's a misconception that lightning is attracted to metal objects. In reality, metal objects just conduct the electricity from lightning and don't necessarily attract it. This means you certainly need to avoid touching metal objects like fences, cars, and metal outbuildings as electricity will easily transfer to you if struck. Lightning is attracted to tall, pointy objects, regardless of their material.
Many people know that the inside of a car is a safe place to be when a storm is bearing down on your location, but it's not the rubber tires of a vehicle that keep you safe, it's the metal of the body. Being surrounded by metal on all sides means the lightning's electricity is safely conducted around the vehicle and not inside.
If a vehicle isn't available to take shelter in, many will resort to finding a tree to get under just to shield from the rain. The fact is, staying away from trees and getting wet is safer. The number two reason why people are struck by lightning in the US is because they take shelter under trees. This especially goes for isolated trees that are prime targets for strikes.
Should you have a suitable shelter nearby, such as inside a house or car, many are still struck because they don't evacuate to these locations fast enough. The first rumble of thunder is always an indication that you should be inside. Structures without plumbing and electricity like sheds and barns are not adequate shelter from lightning.
For those that find themselves stuck outdoors as a thunderstorm approaches, staying away from hills and elevated areas is your best bet to stay safe. Should you feel that lightning is about to strike nearby you should always squat down and cover your ears. This lightning safety position is safer than lying on the ground, which increases the surface area of your body that lightning can travel into if it strikes the adjacent ground.
As always, getting out of the water and staying indoors are the best things you can do to stay safe during a thunderstorm. Be sure to keep up with the latest WAVE 3 News Storm Tracking Team forecast when planning outdoor events.