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Can Lightning Strike Through a Window? Safety Tips & FAQ

woman watching lightning in the window

The power exuded by a lightning storm is one of those things that’s both awesome and terrifying. When you’re watching lightning light up the sky and strike in the distance, followed by the deep rumble of thunder, it’s a show. But when it gets too close, it’s time to get away from the windows.

While lightning won’t necessarily travel through a window to strike you—because it’s not conductive—it’s very possible that it could strike it and cause it to explode. Exploding glass, especially when you’re unprepared for it, could cause serious bodily harm.

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Windows Aren’t the Only Way In

There are essentially three ways that lightning could enter a home. First, by a direct strike. This is why staying away from windows is important during a storm. If a bolt strikes the window, the glass will explode. You could end up with glass in your eyes, skin, or even your lungs if you happen to breathe in at the same time.

The other two ways are through conductive materials like wires or metal in the walls and through the ground. For example, if lightning strikes the power pole outside your home, it could travel through the wires into your home.

Unless you’re physically holding something or standing very close to something that’s connected to said wires, you’ll likely be fine. However, it’s very common for lightning to ruin electronics that are plugged in. This is why it’s important to use surge protectors for plugging in sensitive electronics like TVs or computers.

lightning strikes near house
Image Credit: Piqsels

Staying Safe During an Electrical Storm

Being inside your home is one of the safest places that you can be. However, there are still a few things to keep in mind to ensure you stay safe.

Things to avoid indoors while there is a thunderstorm happening include:

Safety tips:
  • Avoid doing anything with water, such as bathing, showering, or dishes.
  • Don’t touch electronics like appliances or telephones (the ones connected to your wall if you have them)
  • Stay away from windows and outside doorways.

Can You Survive a Lightning Strike?

Being struck by lightning isn’t an automatic death sentence. Many people have been struck by lightning and lived to talk about it. In fact, Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning, not once or twice, but seven times! So, it’s definitely possible to survive a lightning strike.

However, even though statistics show that around 90% of lightning strike victims survive, there is still the possibility of severe and permanent injury or death. So, everything should be done to minimize your chances of getting struck.

lightning strikes near house roofs
Image Credit: Dudarev Mikhail, Shutterstock

What to Do if You Get Caught Outside During a Storm

You should avoid going out anywhere when there is a risk of a lightning storm. If you happen to get caught outside, the best thing to do is find shelter as soon as possible. Safe areas would be buildings or even cars in a pinch.

If you cannot get inside right away, at least avoid the following things to minimize your risk of being struck:
  • Stay away from bodies of water. If you’re out in a boat, return to shore immediately.
  • Don’t lie or crouch down; this actually increases your chance of getting electrocuted if lightning strikes the ground near you.
  • Do not gather in large groups.
  • Avoid open fields or large, open parking lots.
  • Stay away from tall buildings and don’t shelter under cliffs.
thunderstorm with long lightning
Image Credit: eyeonicimages, Pixabay

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FAQs About Lightning

Is it true that lightning never strikes the same place twice?

This is a common myth—and it is a myth. Lightning quite often strikes in the same place. For example, the Empire State Building is hit around 23 times annually on average.

Am I safe from lightning if there aren’t dark clouds or rain?

You may be tempted to think that you’re not in any danger from lightning if you see it in the distance. However, it’s very common for lightning to strike outside of the “storm clouds.” In fact, lightning bolts have been known to strike 10 to 15 miles away from a storm.

Do the tires on a vehicle keep you safe from lightning while inside it?

Many people think that rubber tires on a vehicle prevent lightning from hitting a vehicle because they insulate it from the ground. While most vehicles are safe, it’s not from the tires. It’s actually the metal roofs and sides. The lightning hits the metal and travels through it into the ground. Unless you’re touching the metal, it’s very unlikely anything will happen to you while inside a vehicle.

Lightning Strike Car
Image Credit: Maximilian Pawlikowsky, Shutterstock

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Closing Thoughts

Lightning is a powerful force of nature. It’s beautiful to watch, but it must be respected for the damage it can cause. As long as you follow some basic safety precautions when there’s a chance for lightning, your chances of getting struck are extremely minimal. Always remember this simple saying, “when the thunder roars, go indoors.”

Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock


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