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Living with Lightning

This is my buddy Dave Haluka. Dave has been struck by lightning four and a half times. The first time was when he was in high school and he was walking home through an open field. Out of the clear blue sky came a bolt of lightning that struck him, and for 12 hours he lay unconscious in the tall grass before he was found alive. Later on he learned that it was a single bolt that had come from as far away as about 10 miles and struck him. He was lucky enough that the current didn't pass through any of his vital organs or he would not be alive today to tell the story.

Dave says that once you are struck by lightning, you are prone to being struck again and again. There's no seemingly logical explaination, there are only anecdotes. Like the time he was launching a boat and he was struck once again. He fell in the water, which cooled his body off and woke him. He was still dazed, and all he could hear was the piercing screams of a lady who had witnessed the event. She was screaming, "He's dead! He's dead!" He was more annoyed by the screaming than by the lightning strike, and he yelled back at her, "I'm not dead! This happens all the time."

He says he's been struck four-and-a-half times because of the time a bolt struck very close but missed him. The impact of the strike, however, knocked him backwards and upside down against the wall. Just as he fell to the ground, a tree fell over and very nearly landed on him but he jumped out of the way and into the path of another falling tree. He narrowly escaped being crushed by the second tree and then he turned and looked at the sky. "Ha! You missed me," he said. Realizing he was temping fate, he ran for cover.

When you are outdoors and you hear thunder, don't tempt fate; seek shelter immediately. If you can hear thunder then it's close enough that you could be in jeopardy. If you're involved in the live event production industry, arm yourself with knowledge about lightning to protect yourself and those around you. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has some great information about lightning safety for large venues. Also, you can download a free weather app called WeatherBug with Spark, a lightning detection app. It is a real-time lightning detector that tells you how far or close the nearest lightning is to you. If there is lightning within 10 miles it will advise you to seek shelter immediately. And you should comply because you may not be as lucky as Dave.

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