Lightning: Victim Data
Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities. But the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are only around 1 in 500,000. However, some factors can put you at greater risk for being struck. Regional, seasonal, and occupational differences affect your risk of being injured by lightning.
Although lightning affects all regions in the United States, the southeastern states are most at risk. Lightning generally decreases from the southeast to the northwest, except for a few places such as the Rocky Mountains, where topography causes regular thunderstorms during the summer. Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas have the most lightning deaths and injuries. Florida is considered the “lightning capital” of the country, with more than 2,000 lightning injuries over the past 50 years.
Lightning has the ability to send electricity through the metal pipes used for plumbing, electrical wires such as the telephone, and metal reinforcements to concrete floors and walls.
Lightning can occur during any time of the year, but lightning casualties are highest during summer. July is generally the month with the most lightning. Lightning strikes often occur in the afternoon. In fact, two-thirds of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6pm.
Lightning most often strikes people who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities. More than a third of lightning strike deaths occur on farms. Other common places are industrial locations and private residences. Construction and material handling such as loading and unloading are two of the most common work-related activities where lightning strikes occur. The majority of work-related lightning strikes occur in Florida and Texas, two states where seasonal lightning deaths and injuries are high.
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Lightning Strikes: Information for Workers
- Males are five times more likely than females to be struck by lightning; around 85% of lightning fatalities are men.
- People aged 15–34 years account for almost half of all lightning strike victims (41%). The majority (89%) of lightning deaths occur among whites.
- About one-third (32%) of lightning injuries occur indoors.