NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “When thunder roars, go indoors” is a phrase you may have heard, but the adage isn’t foolproof advice, experts say. While being inside is the safest option during a thunderstorm, that doesn’t mean lightning doesn’t pose a threat inside the home.
During heavy thunderstorms over parts of Tennessee this past weekend, one man was reportedly struck by lightning through his video controller while in his home. But how does this happen?
“Sometimes when your house, you know, takes a direct hit from lightning, you can experience what’s called arcing,” says Krissy Hurley, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Nashville.
Arcing is where lightning hits a television or other electronic advice, and there’s enough electricity that it arcs out and travels to other electronics. It’s this phenomenon that’s likely responsible for the shock the man received Saturday. “And so in this case, that could be what happened, where, you know, the television, the game console system took the initial lightning strike hit, and then the arcing got the game controller,” said Hurley.
The Greenbrier, Tennessee man suffered no injuries, but it’s important to note that such lightning strikes – inside homes or vehicles – may be more common than you think. According to the CDC, just over one-third of all lightning injuries happen indoors.
“Generally, you’re safe in your vehicle driving if there’s lightning,” Hurley said, adding that there are instances when you may be in danger. “If you’re charging your phone, and maybe you have that phone laying in your lap, there are documented cases where people have gotten struck by lightning because they had their cellphone charging into their car and their car got hit by lightning.”
Even when you are indoors, you should take precautions when lightning is present. “Because even though you may think that you are safe, you’re underneath the roof, that lightning strike can come back up and strike you. So you know, stay away from windows, stay away from electronics, and make sure that you have four walls and a roof over your head.”