If you think about metal buildings and lightning, the first thing that comes to mind is the myth that metal buildings are highly dangerous during thunderstorms due to the fact that they attract lightning. But do metal buildings actually attract lighting? Or is this merely a myth? The following guide will look further into the truth behind metal buildings and their safety during thunderstorms with lightning strikes.
Are Metal Buildings More Dangerous During Thunderstorms?
First, let’s take a closer look at the reason why some people believe metal buildings are more dangerous during thunderstorms. The common myth is that because the metal is conductive, it attracts lightning–but this is merely that: a myth. In reality, metal buildings do not make lightning more likely to strike at all. However, metal buildings may actually make a lightning strike less dangerous than lightning strikes on buildings made with other material. Yes–metal may actually make lightning strikes LESS dangerous, not MORE.
The reason why metal buildings are not more dangerous during thunderstorms is due to the way that lightning strikes work. Lightning needs to seek out the path of least resistance in order to discharge; the path of least resistance often includes tall buildings and trees, which provide a short path for the lightning to travel when compared to travelling through open air. The taller the possible conduit, the more likely it is that lightning may strike it. For instance, tall trees are more likely to be struck by lightning than short trees.
Therefore, it is not what a building is made of that attracts lightning, but the height. A tall wooden building is more likely to be hit by lightning than a short metal one.
However, it should be noted that the consequences of a building being struck by lighting can vary from building to building type. Electricity needs a conductor to pass through and the better the conductor, the easier it will pass. Metal and copper are better conductors than materials such as wood or concrete. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is safer for buildings made with better conductors to be hit by lightning than buildings made with poorer conductors; this is because electricity which passes through poor conductors is more likely to cause fires or explosions in an electrical system than when it passes through a good conductor like metal.
Contrary to popular myth, metal buildings are not more dangerous during lightning storms–in fact, metal buildings can technically be safer due to the decreased risk of fires and explosions in metal buildings, thanks to the fact that metal makes for an excellent electrical conductor when compared to other materials. If you find yourself outside in a lightning storm, look for safe shelter immediately; and now that you know the truth behind the myth, you can rest assured that you will not be at a higher risk for being struck by lightning when you are inside a metal building compared to buildings made from other materials.