Lightning myths and facts

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Lightning lessons … May is National Electric Safety Month and, all month long, the Grand River Dam Authority is sharing important electric safety tips. This week, the focus is on lightning, with tips from the Electric Safety Foundation International (

Each year, the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI) designates May as National Electric Safety Month and takes advantage of the time to promote safe electricity practices nationwide. The Grand River Dam Authority is proud to join in this effort by sharing ESFI safety tips and reminders in this space.

This week, the focus is lightning. With the possibility of spring and summer storms over the next few months, this is a good time to separate some lightning myths from lightning facts, via these tips. Keep this in mind and stay safe!

MYTH: If it’s not raining or cloudy, you’re safe from lightning.

FACT: If you can hear thunder, lightning is nearby. Lightning often strikes over 10 miles from the center of the thunderstorm.

MYTH: In the event of a lightning strike, the rubber in a car’s tires protect occupants from being harmed.

FACT: If struck, it is the metal frame of the car that provides protection. The charge travels through the frame and into the ground without harming occupants if they avoid touching anything that conducts a charge.

MYTH: A lightning strike victim carries a charge and should not be touched.

FACT: Lightning travels at about 220,000,000 miles per hour and will have exited the body by the time you approach. Check for a pulse and render first aid if possible. Call 911 immediately!

Finally, remember to use the 30/30 rule: When you see lightning count until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles of you and is dangerous. Immediately seek shelter indoors or in a hardtop vehicle and remain until you have not heard thunder for 30 minutes.

During the month of May, be looking for other electric safety tips in this space. For even more information about National Electric Safety Month and good safety practices, visit

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.