what causes lightning to strike a person

What causes lightning to strike a person?” is a question that many people ask after witnessing the power and destruction that lightning can cause.

While the answer may seem simple, the science behind it is quite complex.

Lightning is one of the most powerful forces in nature, and it can be very dangerous.

When lightning strikes a person, it can cause serious injuries or even death.

Many factors can contribute to why lightning strikes a person. Some of these include: where the person is standing, what they are wearing, and if they are touching anything metal. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what causes lightning strikes and how they affect people.

How Does Lightning Strike A Person?

lightning strike a person

It’s one of the most fascinating (and dangerous) phenomena in nature. When a storm is brewing, the air around us becomes electrically charged.

This charge builds up until it’s released in the form of a lightning bolt.

Step #1: Cloud-To-Ground-Lightning

It all starts with a cloud-to-ground lightning strike.

A cloud-to-ground strike is the most common, and most dangerous, type of lightning strike.

It occurs when the charge in the cloud discharges to the ground.

This usually happens when the ground is positively charged and the cloud is negatively charged.

The charge will discharge through the air, looking for a path of least resistance. If that path happens to be through a person, the person will be struck by lightning.

Step #2: Formation Of Conductive Path

But how does this conductive path form? It all has to do with the ionization of the air.

conductive path

When the leader and streamer meet, they create an electrical field that ionizes the air around them.

This ionized air becomes a conductive path for the lightning to travel.

Step #3: Find A Person Or Thing To Strike

So, how does this bolt of electricity find its way to a person? It all has to do with the way our bodies are conductors of electricity. 

Our bodies are made up of water and other minerals that allow electricity to flow through them.

So when a lightning bolt comes into contact with our bodies, it will follow the path of least resistance and flow through us.

This is why it’s so important to stay inside during a thunderstorm.

If you’re caught outside, the best thing to do is to crouch down and make yourself as small a target as possible. 

And whatever you do, don’t lie down flat! This will make you an even bigger conductor and increase your chances of being struck by lightning.

finding something to strike

And that’s how lightning strikes a person! 

The electrical field around them ionizes the air, creating a conductive path for the lightning to travel.

This can happen even if the person is not directly touching the ground.

Note: The next time you see a thunderstorm rolling in, remember to stay safe and indoors because it's not something you want to experience firsthand.

What Happens When Lightning Strikes A Person?

Lightning strikes people all the time. But what happens when lightning hits a person? It doesn’t have a straightforward. 

The range of effects that can result from being struck by lightning is diverse and varied. 

But there are some commonalities that can help you predict what might happen if you’re unlucky enough to get hit.

First of all, how long do you have to live? If it’s more than 5 minutes, your chances of survival are pretty great. 


In fact, most people who are hit by lightning survive, and they often don’t even suffer any lasting physical or mental effects.

But if you’re struck by lightning and it doesn’t kill you immediately, here’s what might happen;

Prospect #1: You Could Experience Memory Loss

You could experience memory loss or confusion for anywhere from a few hours to a few months after being struck.

You may also suffer temporary paralysis, usually in just one arm or leg, which usually goes away within 24 hours.

Prospect #2: It Could Affect Your Eyesight

If the lightning bolt does kill you instantly, there’s still a chance that some damage might be done to your brain before death occurs.

In this case, your eyesight could be permanently impaired or lost entirely.

eye injury checkup
Note: There could be some muscle damage as well as memory loss and confusion similar to those

Prospect #3: It Could Cause Ventricular Fibrillation

When lightning hits a person, it causes an electrical discharge that travels through the body. 

The current typically passes through the heart area and causes ventricular fibrillation (VF).

This a condition where the ventricles contract ineffectively and don’t pump blood effectively. 

Note: This can lead to cardiac arrest within minutes, but it's not always fatal.

Ways To Protect Yourself From Lightning?

ways to protect yourself

Lightning is one of the most frightening and dangerous weather phenomena, but you don’t have to be completely helpless in its presence. 

There are many things you can do to make yourself safer during a lightning storm.

#1: Stay Away From Water

Get away from any source of water, lakes, rivers, puddles, etc., because lightning tends to follow the path of least resistance to ground itself. 

If your body is standing in water during an electrical storm, there’s a very high chance you’ll be hit by lightning. 

Especially when the lightning strikes down nearby objects that are conducting electricity into the water around them (like metals or other conductive materials).

#2: Stay Away From Windows When Indoor

If you’re indoors during a storm and hear thunder rumbling overhead, move away from windows so it doesn’t break through them.

away from windows

This could cause even more problems for anyone inside. Close all doors and windows.

#3: Stay Away From Trees

If there’s no shelter around, stay away from trees, tall structures, and metal objects like fences and poles. 

If you can’t get indoors or under some sort of shelter, crouch down with your feet together on dry ground.

Then put your hands over your ears to avoid hearing damage from the thunder.

#4: Avoid Touching Any Metal Objects

If there’s no shelter nearby and lightning strikes close by, it’s best not to move at all for at least 30 minutes after the strike. 

This is because lightning may still be present as a “static charge.” 

You also want to avoid touching any metal objects during this time as well as moving around too much. 

avoid any metal object

You could disturb any remaining static electricity that might cause further injury or damage.

What Causes Lightning To Strike A Person?

If you’ve ever wondered what can cause lightning to strike a person, you’re not alone.

People have been asking themselves this question for ages, and there are lots of different theories.

The truth is, we don’t really know why lightning strikes people. 

The most common theory is that it’s related to a cloud-to-ground discharge. 

Basically, where the electricity in the cloud doesn’t fully dissipate before it reaches the ground.

This happens because there’s too much energy in the cloud at once, and it can’t go anywhere else except down to earth.

lightning strike a person

Here are some other possible reasons that could cause lightning to strike a person.

Reason #1: Side Flash

Lightning  can strike people because of something called “side flash.”

This is when one bolt of lightning strikes an object on the ground and then jumps back up again before hitting another object (like a person). 

Tip: It's also possible for lightning to strike a person directly if they're holding an object that acts as a conductor (like a metal rod).

Reason #2: If You Are Wearing Metal

Another thing that can cause lightning to strike a person is if they are wearing metal. 

Metal conducts electricity, so if a person is wearing metal, they are more likely to attract lightning.

wearing a metal

The reason for this is that tall or metal objects such as trees, buildings, and towers are better conductors of electricity than shorter objects like people.

Reason #3: If A Person Is Standing On Water

Finally, if a person is standing in water, they are also more likely to attract lightning. This is because water is a good conductor of electricity. 

So if you are ever caught in a thunderstorm, remember to stay away from tall objects, metal, and water!

Reason #4: Staying In An Open Field During A Thunderstorm

Lightning striking a person is actually not that uncommon.

It can happen if the person is in an open field during a thunderstorm, or if they’re near a tall object that lightning is attracted to. 

Lightning can also strike a person if they’re touching or holding onto something that is conductive, like metal.

open field
Tip: If you can, find a safe place to shelter until the storm passes.

And if you do get struck by lightning, don’t worry – you’ll probably be just fine.


The cause of lightning is differences in temperature and pressure between the ground and the atmosphere. But what causes lightning to strike a person? 

Lightning can strike a person in many different ways. 

Most of the time, it’s because someone is holding onto an object that is conducting electricity.

This can include metal objects or even plastic ones if they’re wet or have been exposed to water. 

Other times, lightning can strike a person because they’re standing near something else that’s conducting electricity.

It can also strike them if they are touching another person who has been struck by lightning.