According to reliable sources lightning strikes account for over 25 000 deaths and 250 000 injuries a year. Mother nature in her malevolence likes to whack us about now and then, and lightning is second only to flooding as a method of wiping out her subjects.
Historically, one of the best means of protection in high risk areas, such as Florida in the USA, is to erect a lighting rod. The idea behind this effective safety device is that scientifically lightning follows the path of least resistance when it crackles and zaps at the earth, it usually sizzles the highest beckon in, or near its path.
I’m no genius, but even I am baffled at the resemblance between lightning rods and umbrellas, especially since every average collapsable brolly I have ever seen, is of metallic construction.
WTF, is this just plain stupidity or an international ‘Let’s kill off a few weaklings, and debilitate a few others’ conspiracy!
To carry a metallic pointed electric conductor above your head in a thunderstorm is as clever as standing under a tree, and we all know what will happen to you if you try that.
It would be interesting to know how many people are fried under rain protectors each year, and how long it’s going to take for a safer, more practical storm shield to become available (on supermarket shelves.) Most people simply buy what they are presented with, trusting that the experts who invent and distribute a common tool such as an umbrella, would have intelligently weighed up the pros and cons of their product before putting it up for sale (excuse the pun.)
On further investigation I have discovered ( much to my relief I might add) that some umbrellas are made with fiberglass shafts. However, I have never seen one, have you?
Wikipedia reports that thousands of new designs for the humble umbrella are created annually.
“Umbrellas continue to be actively developed. In the US, so many umbrella-related patents are being filed that the U.S. Patent Office employs four full-time examiners to assess them. As of 2008, the office registered three thousand active patents on umbrella-related inventions. Nonetheless, Totes, the largest American umbrella producer, has stopped accepting unsolicited proposals. Its director of umbrella development was reported as saying that while umbrellas are so ordinary that everyone thinks about them, “it’s difficult to come up with an umbrella idea that hasn’t already been done.”
Below are the tips suggested by WikiHow on protecting yourself from a strike.
Avoid being out in any open areas like fields, golf courses, or parking lots. Here you are the tallest thing around, and the easiest target.
Stay away from forms of metal. Lightning is electricity and metal is a conductor of electricity. So are you. You and the metal together make a fine target.
Stop swimming and get away from water. Water is a conductor.
Don’t stand under tall objects like trees or towers. As tall objects, these are easy targets, and the electricity might jump to you too.
Don’t fly any kites.
Don’t carry an umbrella. You may get soaked if it starts raining, but it’s better than dying.
Find a car and get in it. Cars are very safe places to be during lightning storms. Even though it is metal and seems like a perfect target, if it is struck the electricity will just move into the tires, which is a nonconductor. If you are in a car that is hit by lightning stay inside the vehicle. Stepping out will connect the car (full of electricity) and the ground (a great place for the electricity to go) to complete the circuit, thus electrocuting you.
If you get caught in an open field during a lightning storm, crouch down with your head between your knees (and don’t lie flat). Try to become as small as possible.
Most umbrellas these days are manufactured in China, and we all know how brilliant the Chinese are… So WTF is my non-metallic, safe, collapsing or ingeniously folding umbrella people, WHERE?