With all the thunderstorms we’ve had this summer, we thought it was only appropriate to tackle some common lightning myths. Since we install our share of metal decking and fencing—including chain link options—we want to assure you that all of these materials are safe. So, let the lighting mythbusting begin!
1. It’s safe to be outside in a storm, as long as you’re not standing near any metal.
For the record, if there’s a really bad thunderstorm, you should probably stay inside. Apart from lightning, there may be strong winds, flash flooding, and other poor conditions that make it hazardous to walk or drive during a storm. However, what we used to believe about lightning has changed in recent years due to research. It doesn’t always hit the tallest thing on the horizon or the large metal rods strategically positioned to attract it. Actually, the forces that control the storm are often too far away—and too strong—to be influenced by objects on the ground. Including your deck or fence.
2. Small metal objects, including jewelry, attract lighting to you.
Actually, lighting makes up its mind about where it’s going to strike long before it reaches the ground. Large objects can draw its attention if it’s already within 3 to 5 feet. With smaller objects, like jewelry, it would only alter its course by a matter of inches—which means you’d have to be in its path to begin with. The only problem is that metal naturally conducts electricity, so you don’t want to inadvertently touch something right after it’s been struck. While it may not transfer the charge to you, it can “superheat,” inflicting serious burns after the fact.
3. Tall objects, like your house or nearby trees, are natural targets for lighting.
Tall is a relative term. When it comes to large forces, such as thunderstorms, degrees of influence come into play. Basically, how much influence an object has on lightning depends on its overall size. A 1,000-foot tall skyscraper reduces the gap between the storm and the ground; therefore, it has a much larger sphere of influence than your normal-sized house. This same rule applies to trees, umbrellas, vehicles, etc. So, unless you plan on building a humongous deck or fence, you don’t need to worry about drawing lightning.
Although the weather in Maryland can be somewhat unpredictable, don’t let this year’s stormy summer keep you away from practical solutions like aluminum fencing or metal deck handrails. They’re durable, affordable, and easy to maintain. Plus, they’re not magnets for lightning, as our recent mythbusting shows. So, if you want more information or a specific quote, give our experienced team a call!