Where in the World: Where Lightning Won’t Strike

So, it’s been established: you’re an avid golfer; you know well enough how important it is to take precautions against lightning strikes.

104 Where in the World: Where Lightning Won’t Strike

Image by: Brian Moran

In fact, on Australia Wide First Aid’s website, it’s noted: “Lightning is one of the most dangerous and frequently encountered weather hazards in Australia. It is estimated that there are 20 deaths and 450 severe injuries caused by lightning every year.” Famous golfer Lee Trevino was struck by lightning 3 times during his career and that didn’t stop him. He jokes about it with this classic quote, “If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.”

You know all the reasons you love to golf. It’s a sport that can be solitary if you want, but is an excellent way for a group of friends or business associates to get together, bond, walk (and get a little exercise) on beautifully maintained greens and tap into your competitive spirit. There’s no better place to golf and get a terrific deal than with Murray Downs Golf Course Packages.

But if you’re new to the on-the-greens sport, there are things you should know about: In addition to avoiding water hazards on a course, don’t hold onto or stay near items that conduct electricity.

  • Pools or puddles of water

  • Trees

  • Metal Fences

  • Umbrellas…and

  • Golf Clubs

That’s right, we know you paid a pretty penny for your beloved clubs, but, really, which is more important – your clubs or your life? You’re hopefully answering, “well, if you put it that way…”

The AWFA quotes Julie Evans, senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, “if the time between when you see a flash of lightning and hear thunder is less than 30 seconds, your chances of being stuck by lightning are high. One way of determining how close lightning is to you is to count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and sound of thunder. For every three seconds, the lightning is one kilometre away. Again, if the time is within 30-seconds which means the lightning is as little as 10-kilometres away, you should find immediate shelter.”

Lightning can warm the air five times hotter than the surface of the sun, and a strike contains a hundred million electrical volts.

Finding refuge under a beautiful tree may be your first instinct, but it’s actually one of the worst places you can try to shelter. Head towards the inside of a building, a bus shelter or a car – those are the best places. But, if you find yourself out in the open, the AWFA suggests you crouch down “feet together with your head tucked down towards your chest. You should aim to make yourself as small as you can. Laying down flat on the ground increases your total body surface area, which also increases your chance of getting struck by lightning. Evans suggests that you should wait approximately 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning before you leave your shelter. More than half of lightning deaths occur once the storm has passed.”

Despite what you might have gleaned from cartoons, the results of being struck by lightning are not universal. Some effects can be minor, but can range to fatal. The Annals of Emergency Medicine notes that of those who are actually struck by lightning, 90 percent of them survive (See? Not at all like the cartoons of our youth). Unfortunately, disabilities and after-effects can be permanent, which the AWFA describes as:

Short term effects can include:

  • Impaired Eyesight

  • Ear Ringing

  • Ruptured Ear Drums

  • Loss of Hearing

  • Loss of Consciousness

  • Severe Electrical Shock

  • Seizures

  • Paralysis

  • External Burns to the Skin

  • Internal burns to Organs and Tissues

  • Burnt Trauma (from falling)

  • In severe cases, Cardiac Arrest can occur

Long term effects include:

  • Sleep Disturbances

  • Memory Dysfunction

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Abnormal Gait (cannot walk or balance properly)

  • Joint Stiffness

  • Muscle Spasms

  • Dry Eyes

There are as many myths about lightning as there are about Sasquatch. Here are myths that are just that: myths, they’re untrue, so don’t believe them:

  • Jewellery attracts lightning

  • Structures with metal attract lightning

  • Shelter under a tree (we disproved this, above)

  • Don’t touch someone struck by lightning, because you might get electrocuted

  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place

However, you can believe that you better seek immediate shelter if your hair stands up on the end of your head, because it might mean that positive charges are rising through you.

By the way, later in another interview, Trevino would be quoted as saying he must have tempted God by staying outside to play his favourite sport even after a lightning delay, “I deserved to get hit… God can hit a 1-iron.”