85 Percent of People Killed by Lightning Have This in Common

With summer storms blanketing the U.S., protecting yourself is more important than ever.

In most parts of the U.S., summertime doesn't just usher in warm days and longer daylight hours—it also brings summer storms. While the rain may help lower temperatures and reduce the likelihood of heat-related illness, it also brings about another seasonal danger: lightning strikes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among the individuals fatally struck by lightning in the U.S. each year, there's a surprising commonality that links 85 percent of them. Read on to discover what the vast majority of lightning strike fatalities have in common.

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85 percent of fatal lightning strike victims are male.

man holding umbrella outside in rain
Shutterstock/Jaromir Chalabala

According to the CDC, men make up 85 percent of fatal lightning strike victims. Men are also five times as likely to be struck by lightning, either fatally or non-fatally, than their female counterparts. In addition to being predominantly male, 41 percent of individuals struck by lightning are between ages 15 and 34.

The risk of being struck by lightning is also significantly higher in the summer, with July being peak season for lightning strikes, and most individuals being struck by lightning between noon and 6 p.m.

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Particular activities put you at risk if you're outdoors.

Grandfather fishing with his granddaughters

Your occupation may also be a major determinant of your risk of being struck by lightning. According to CDC data, over a third of deaths due to lightning strikes happen on farms.

It's not occupational hazards alone that can make you more susceptible to being struck by lightning, though. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports that, between 2006 and 2013, 64 percent of lightning deaths were associated with leisure activities, with approximately 10 percent of leisure-related lightning fatalities associated with fishing, followed by camping, boating, soccer, and golf.

A small handful of states are home to the vast majority of lightning strike deaths.

Florida Keys

Though lightning strikes the earth over eight million times a day, only 35 people in the U.S. are killed by lightning each year. However, certain states are home to significantly higher rates of lightning strike deaths. According to data from the Lightning Safety Council, Florida has the greatest number of annual lightning strike deaths, followed by Texas, Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Even inside your home, you're not safe from lightning.

A woman washing dishes in the kitchen sink

While heading inside during a thunderstorm may significantly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning, that doesn't mean you're in the proverbial clear. The CDC reports that approximately one third of lightning strikes occur indoors. This can happen through a variety of means, including touching electrified water while cleaning or bathing, or coming into contact with conductive materials that have become electrified.

While being struck by lightning may be a threat both indoors and outdoors during storms, there is some good news. Despite what many people assume, being struck by lightning has a relatively low fatality rate. According to the National Weather Service, approximately 90 percent of individuals struck by lightning survive, although many are left with lingering injuries and disabilities associated with being struck.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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