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Do cars protect you from lightning?

Do Car Tires Protect You From Lightning?


Lightning, thunderstorms, hurricanes, and floods can all be potential threats to your life and those of your loved ones. It's an inevitable fact of life that these things will happen. So how do car tires protect you from lightning? Well, let's start by looking at how it happens. Lightning is a high-speed (500 mph or more) electrical discharge caused by thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms occur when a cloud comes together with a rain thunderstorm. The warm air and moisture from the clouds combine with the heat from the rain thunderstorm to produce an incredibly powerful electric bolt - in fact, the bolt is formed by the wind itself! Lightning can strike anywhere within a one thousand mile (two hundred thousand meters) radius from thunderstorms. However, the greatest threat from lightning is from lightning - high voltage - directly struck by lightning on earth. (Note: lightning does not strike in the same place where the lightning storm originated.)

So how do car tires protect you from lightning? The answer is that they protect you from rain or dew, but not from lightning. The only way for the lightning to strike is to strike somewhere close to a thunderstorm cloud. And in most cases, the farther away the thunderstorm cloud is, the less likely it is that it will thunder - because rain and dew evaporate quickly. So in an area where thunderstorms are common, car tires protect you from lightning because they slow down the precipitation before it has time to move into clouds, which slows the bolt of lightning down.

Rubber tires do operate as an insulator for low voltages, and only to a limited extent. A typical lightning bolt is around 300 million voltages and 30,000 amps, while the electricity in your home is 120 voltages and 15 amps. A lightning bolt's voltage is too strong for tires to stop it. A lightning strike might destroy your car's electronic control circuits or blast out your tires.

A safe spot to wait out a lightning storm is inside a car. If the vehicle is hit by lightning, the metal frame conducts the electrical charge around the car's sides and into the ground, avoiding any contact with the inside components, including the occupants.

Don't slam the doors shut. The metal frame functions as a Faraday cage, a cylindrical conducting device that shields its inside from electrical fields and currents. Because you are not in a tightly sealed metal cage, driving about in a convertible will not secure you, no matter which type of tires you use.

What are the benefits of car tires in terms of lightning protection?

While it is impossible to stop a bolt of lightning, you can take measures to minimize its effect on your vehicle. There are certainly disadvantages to having no protection, but in most cases, the small price of having protection is worth it. Besides, most of us don't spend all our money on protecting things - we spend it on paying the bills and buying nice clothes.

How does this relate to your neighborhood? Well, do you have any way to stop a bolt of lightning from striking near your house? If not, you should strongly consider putting some of the bolts through the basement windows or onto the second story of your home. You could also put them up on the side of the building. After all, most lightning strikes during the night, and the glare from tall buildings can significantly reduce the visibility of a storm system.

Car tires do not protect against lightning strikes. The rubber of a tire functions as an insulator at low voltages, but the voltage in a lightning bolt is simply too high for tires or air to block it. According to scientist Martin Uman in his book "All About Lightning," regardless of how thick your rubbers are, they won't block lightning. According to Dr. Uman, waiting out a thunderstorm inside an automobile is safe, but not because certain materials prevent lightning. Instead, if the vehicle is hit by lightning, the electrical charge is directed around the car's sides and then into the ground, without affecting the inside contents. 

A few of the basic principles of electromagnetics is the potential of a hollow carrying object to shield its interior from electromagnetic currents and currents. A Faraday cage is an example of such an item. As a result, going around in a convertible, on a motorcycle, or a bicycle throughout a lightning storm is not a good idea, regardless of the type of tires. The Faraday-cage effects should shelter you from the illumination if you're in a fully enclosed metal car.

Nonetheless, you must still park your car and wait out the storm because a strike can blow out your rubber or your vehicle's electronic control circuits, resulting in an accident if you are moving. If you are trapped in a lightning storm while riding in a convertible or windowless vehicle, on a motorcycle, or a bike, you must seek cover as soon as possible. If you can't find a building, cave, or other primary sheltering structure, look for a low area in the landscape away from water, scattered trees, and other towering structures (e.g., windmills and power-line towers).

Why do you think you're protected from lightning in a car?

There are two secure locations to seek cover when thunder howls and lightning flashes across the air: inside a solid building and a hard-topped vehicle.

Many people assume that cars are safe from thunder because their rubber tires protect them; however, this is a misconception that has been debunked.

A lightning bolt is so powerful (hotter than the sun's surface!) that it may pierce or even melt tires. Rubber tires do not protect against lightning. People have died by lightning when riding motorbikes and bicycles during thunderstorms, so we understand this accurately.

The metal cage that surrounds the individuals inside the car protects them from lightning. Since metal is a good conductor, this may seem counterintuitive. However, the metal cage of an automobile guides the lightning bolt around the car occupants and securely into the ground. The automobile effectively transforms into a Faraday cage, shielding everybody within.

Once inside a vehicle, avoid touching any metal and pull over to the roadside until the storm has passed. Putting your hands in your lap till the storm has passed is a solid rule of thumb.

Here are a few tips to consider to remain safe from lighting springtime storm season.

  • Plan ahead of time. If thunderstorms are expected, do not put yourself in a situation where you are too far from the safe refuge. Check Early Alert Weather Apps is a valuable tool for preparing for outdoor activities.

  • If the weather begins to become threatening, seek refuge immediately. When you hear thunder, it's important to cancel or reschedule outdoor activities and seek shelter immediately. Lightning can blow up to 10 miles (sometimes even 15 miles) before a thunderstorm in places where it is not pouring. Some people are struck while approaching a haven because their tasks were not completed on time.

  • The only areas protected from lightning are solid buildings and rugged vehicles. Lightning can strike anywhere outside. Lightning can strike picnic shelters, plants, tents, mobile restrooms, baseball dugouts, and other structures.

  • Return to the outside 30 min after the last thunderclap. Lightning can hit miles ahead of a storm and sometimes strike miles after it.

  • Once inside, avoid using corded phones, showering, or using a pc until the storm has passed. Anything connected to a power outlet or plumbing is dangerous because if a lightning bolt hits the building or near, an electric charge could be sent through wire or plumbing, injuring anyone who touches it. Cell phones are completely secure.

  • If you're caught outside while trekking or camping and don't have access to a safe refuge (like a car or a structure), there are a few actions you can do as a last option to lessen your odds of being attacked. Bend down on the balls of your feet in the low spot available (exclude open spaces such as fields and bodies of water like lakes/rivers). The goal is to shrink yourself as much as possible and limit the body surface area that touches the ground. However, this is the last option, and NOAA discontinued advocating the "lightning crouch" in 2008, stating that individuals should only use it if they have no other options. You must never find yourself in this position if you consult the weather report before leaving a secure shelter.

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