Correcting Myths

Updated Tuesday December 22, 2015 by Cheryl Erickson.

“Heat lightning” that seems to light up the distant sky after a hot and humid day does pose a threat. Heat lightning is actually from a storm far enough away, the thunder is not audible. Should the storm move in your direction, it carries all of the threat of any other storm. 
Rubber-soled shoes do not insulate or protect against a lightning strike. Lightning bolts traveling six miles to earth have little regard for Nike Air Shoes. 

Tires on a car do not protect individuals from a strike; however, they are much safer inside a vehicle as compared to outside. Do not misunderstand; injury can occur in a car. Provided that the person is not touching metal, the hard top of a vehicle increases protection. 


Lightning can strike at any time during a storm. It may occur up to 10 miles away from any rainfall or in the midst of heavy or light rain. 

A person suffering from a lightning strike must receive immediate first aid and/or CPR. The victim does not carry an electrical charge of danger to someone touching them while tending to them. 

To the old myth that lightning never strikes twice in the same place it can only be said that the behavior of lightning is random and unpredictable. The Empire State Building is hit about 25 times annually.

Flash and Bang:
For years we have been told that to gauge the distance of lightning one can begin counting one thousand one, one thousand two from the point of seeing lightning to the point of hearing thunder. The old idea was each second represented one mile of distance that the lightning was away. But not so any longer! The current method of counting seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder is called the “flash to bang” method. The newest “flash to bang” method says that the count number should be divided by five in order to determine more accurately the number of miles away that the lightning is occurring. So, if you count to five from flash to bang, this means the lightning is actually one mile away, count to 10 and the lightning is two miles away, etc. If this interval is decreasing rapidly as the storm approaches or the count reaches thirty seconds (or six miles), the outdoor activity must stop. All persons must immediately leave the athletic site and seek safe shelter.