Effects of lightning strikes on the human body

Effects of lightning strikes on the human body
It is a common belief that lightning strikes are a death sentence. But that is not entirely true. About 90% of the people in the US, who were struck, survived. However, the victims rarely walked unscathed and the damage can be permanent.

Did you know?

Lightning triggers 75,000 forest fires in the US every year. It can divide an entire tree down, in the middle, in a split second. Lightning carries between 1-10billion Joules of energy. Enough to power a 100W bulb for at least 3 months. As for the human body don’t worry you won’t get cooked from inside.


What really happens?

When that amount of energy enters your body, it short-circuits the electric signals that run your heart, lungs and nervous system. This could cause:

  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Brain Injury
  • Seizures
  • Spinal Cord Damage
  • Amnesia

Side Effects of lightning strikes

Electricity isn’t your only problem. Lightning is blisteringly hot. In under a second, it can heat the surrounding air to temperature 53000º F (5 times hotter than the sun’s surface). Due to this, there’s a rapid expansion of air. This causes a shockwave, which we hear as Thunder. According to calculations, if a person is standing within 30feet of lightning strike point, he can experience a blast wind equivalent to a 5kg TNT bomb.

  • Cataract
The intense heat, light and electricity can damage your eyes. In fact, it can bore holes in your retina and cause cataracts within days or weeks

  • Impotency
Lightning strikes can increase the chances of impotence in men and overall decreased libido.

  • Lichtenberg Figures
These are intricate designs that appear on your body due to lightning strikes. As the lightning moves towards the surface, it forces the RBCs out of the capillaries and into the epidermis causing these bruises.

  • Third-Degree Burns
The heat from the lightning can heat any metal article you’re wearing, causing third-degree burns.


  • Burst off Clothes
It can evaporate the rainwater or sweat on your skin. That steam explosion can blow off your clothes and shoes, leaving you partially naked.

How to be safe from lightning strikes?

To make sure you’re not struck by lightning, you need to take a few precautions:

  • Check weather forecasts in advance
  • Stay indoors during storms
  • Do not take shelter under an isolated tree, pole or field.
So, stay calm and remember, ‘When thunder roars, stay indoors.’