Uncovering the myths of storm safety

Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

How often have you heard that phrase?

It’s a common saying, but it’s not a true one. Lightning can hit anywhere more than once – in fact, according to stormhighway.com, the Sears Tower in Chicago is hit roughly 40-90 times in a year.

There are countless other beliefs about storms that are not only false, but dangerous if trusted during severe weather. Here are four common myths and the truth behind them:

Myth: Rubber tires on your car will protect you from lightning.
Truth: Tires have nothing to do with it. Your car, however, will protect you by dispersing the electric charge from lightning to the ground around you. But the electricity can transfer to metal inside your car, such as a steering wheel or stick shift, so turn off your vehicle and keep your hands in your lap until the storm passes.

Myth: If you’re caught outside in a storm, lie down flat on the ground to avoid lightning strikes.
Truth: You’ll only create a larger surface to hit. Instead, find a low-lying area, crouch as low as you can, tuck your head between your legs, and cover your head with your hands. You want to become the smallest target and have as little contact with the ground as possible.

Myth: Go to the southwest corner of your home for safety during severe weather.
Truth: No corner is safer than any other – in fact, your best option is to move to the center of your house on the lowest level, away from windows. Choose a small room such as a closet or bathroom if possible.

Myth: Open your windows during a tornado to equalize the pressure inside and outside your home.
Truth: Opening windows will only allow the strong winds to cause internal damage to your home. Plus, letting the wind in from outside will push up on your roof, increasing the chances of lifting it off the house.

For more storm safety information, visit www.ready.gov/severe-weather.