When lightning strikes a car, it can cause serious damage to the vehicle and its occupants.
The power of the strike is immense, with temperatures reaching up to 50,000°F in just fractions of a second.
This intense heat can easily melt metal and destroy sensitive electrical components.
When lightning strikes a car, it can result in fire, explosions, and even electrocution of the car’s occupants.
It is important to understand what happens when lightning strikes a car so that you can take appropriate safety measures if ever faced with such a situation.
What happens when lightning strikes a car?
There are impacts on both the physical structure of the car and its electrical systems. These include:
The effects of heat on the vehicle’s exterior
When lightning strikes a car, the intense heat of the strike can easily melt metal and cause severe damage to the vehicle’s exterior.
Metal body parts such as doors, hoods, and roofs will be vulnerable to melting or bending due to the extreme temperatures reached by lightning.
Even if not completely melted or ruined, these exterior parts may become discolored, warped, or cracked.
In some cases, the windows and windshields of a car will shatter due to the tremendous heat generated by the lightning strike.
Fire can also be caused by the intense heat of a lightning strike in some instances.
The effects on electrical systems
The electrical systems of a car are also vulnerable to the intense heat created by a lightning strike.
The lightning can damage internal wiring, fuses, and circuit breakers, or cause short circuits or total system failure in some cases.
Sensitive computer-controlled components such as airbag sensors and fuel injection systems can be completely destroyed if hit directly by a lightning strike.
In addition, the radio, air conditioning, and other electrical systems in the car may be rendered useless.
The battery can also suffer damage or become completely drained if it is not protected by special surge protectors.
Risk of fire and explosion
The risk of fire or explosion is another possible consequence of lightning striking a car.
The intense heat generated by the strike can quickly ignite fuel vapors in an automobile, resulting in a potentially dangerous situation.
Fuel tanks and other combustible materials may also explode due to the incredible heat created by the lightning strike.
Finally, in some cases, an electrical spark created by lightning can ignite combustible gases such as hydrogen or methane in and around a car, causing an explosion.
Potential for injury or death
In addition to the physical and electrical damage caused by lightning striking a car, there is also a risk of injury or death of its occupants.
Electricity can easily be conducted through metal parts of the vehicle, such as doors, windows, and even seatbelts, potentially electrocuting anyone inside the car.
People who are in contact with the metal surfaces of the car may also be at risk of receiving electric shocks.
Therefore, it is important to stay away from the vehicle and any electrical components if lightning strikes your car.
How to protect yourself when lightning strikes a car?
There are some tips to take into consideration when lightning strikes a car.
Stay inside the vehicle
When lightning strikes a car, it is generally best to stay inside the vehicle.
Metal parts of a car are the best conductor of electricity and can help provide some protection from electrical shocks.
It is also important to not touch any metal surfaces in the car or outside of it during a lightning storm as this could increase your risk of being electrocuted.
Don’t touch metal objects
It is important to avoid touching any metal objects, both inside and outside of your car, when lightning strikes.
This includes door handles, window frames, seatbelts and anything else that has direct contact with the metal structure of the vehicle.
It is also best to stay away from electronics and other electrical components during a lightning storm as they can become damaged or cause potential electric shocks.
Unplug all electrical components
Before a lightning storm, it is important to unplug any electrical components inside the car to reduce the risk of an electric shock.
This includes removing your phone charger from the car and turning off any non-essential features such as air conditioning, radio, or navigation systems.
Additionally, it is important to check for any exposed wiring in the car that could be affected by the lightning strike and ensure it is adequately insulated or covered.
Install surge protection devices
If you are concerned about lightning striking your car, installing surge protection devices can provide an extra layer of protection.
These devices are designed to absorb the electric current generated by a lightning strike and redirect it away from your car and other electrical components.
Additionally, if you have a fuel tank in your car, consider using specially designed surge protectors that can help protect it from the intense heat caused by lightning strikes.
Follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions
It is important to follow all of the safety instructions given by your car’s manufacturer.
This includes making sure you are using the correct type and size of fuses as well as checking for any exposed wiring that could be damaged by lightning strikes.
Additionally, following the manufacturer’s recommended safety precautions can help you ensure that your car is protected from potential damage caused by lightning strikes.
Turn off the engine
It is important to turn off the engine of your car when lightning strikes, as this will reduce the risk of fire.
If you are in an area with tall trees, it is also best to get out of the vehicle and take shelter in a nearby building or low-lying area.
This will reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while outside the car.
When lightning strikes a car, it is of utmost importance to stay safe.
Taking the necessary precautions such as staying inside the vehicle and avoiding metal objects, can help protect you from potential electric shocks or other dangers associated with lightning storms.
Additionally, unplugging all electrical components, installing surge protection devices, and following the manufacturer’s safety instructions can also give your car added protection from lightning strikes.
Lastly, it is important to remember to turn off the engine of your car when lightning strikes and take shelter in a nearby building or low-lying area if you are in an area with tall trees.
Following these tips can help keep you safe during lightning storms.