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Old 05-09-2015, 08:25 PM   #1
Lily Kerns
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Default Thunderstorms? Lightning?

I've no desire to get caught in rain...my glasses don't have wipers...but I do have a question. I understand that auto tires will insulate you from lightning, but what is safe if you get caught in a storm on your seg? Common sense says avoid if at all possible.. But some of these storms are coming up pretty fast and I'm not always that close to either home or shelter, so safety tips would be welcome.
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:01 PM   #2
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I understand that auto tires will insulate you from lightning, but what is safe if you get caught in a storm on your seg?
That's not correct. Tires or other rubber items do very little to protect one from a lightning strike. What helps in a car is the metal body, which acts as a Faraday cage. Lightning that strikes a vehicle travels through the metal wrapper and to the earth below. On the bottom side of the car, it either travels through the tires (there's lots of conductive carbon in those "rubber" tires") or arcs directly to the earth. Remember that lightning has already arced down from the cloud. It can certainly arc another foot from the bottom of the car to the ground. If you don't touch the metal parts of a car inside, you'll likely be OK. Aircraft get struck all the time.

With an approaching storm, you must get OFF the Seg and get away from it. Standing upright, it's like you are standing on a ladder. You're a prime target for the "leaders" which are looking for the easiest path to the earth. Don't shelter under trees, as they can sometimes quite literally explode when hit by lightning, driving splinters of wood into anything nearby.

If you are caught in a storm with lightning and you really have zero shelter, such as being in a field, crouch down with your arms wrapped around knees, and feet positioned so that they touch each other. It's better to do this in a depression in the earth, if you have the option. There are arguments that say laying down prostrate is a better solution, but I subscribe to the "potential difference" theory. Lightning which strikes the earth electrifies the area around. The point of strike has the highest instantaneous voltage with respect to the earth, and the voltage drops as the distance increases from the strike point. If lightning strikes the earth near to you, and your feet are far apart, there will be a large voltage across your body, and electrical current could flow through your body. This might actually be worse that being struck directly. With your feet close together, there will be relatively less voltage across your body. BTW, there seems to be agreement that umbrellas are good for shedding rain, but you don't want to be holding one in a lighting storm.

Most storms don't come out of nowhere and start flinging off lightning bolts within seconds or minutes. It takes time for the storm to build. Get yourself a good warning application, such as Storm for iPhone, which notifies you when lightning or precipitation are approaching. If you're going gliding in storm season, maybe make a plan for where and how you would shelter safely, and, perhaps pack a folded plastic trash bag for rain protection.

My research says that if the lightning flash-to-thunder time is less than 25 seconds, you're already in the potential danger area for a lightning strike.
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:33 PM   #3
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Obviously I'm not a physicist... But I've been leery of the danger. Accurate or not, Being a rolling lightning rod is not an attractive idea. Around here the warning is that if you can hear the thunder, get inside. As I left church this morning it was just starting to mist. It was sprinkling and thundering before I was out of the parking lot. Fortunately I've less than two blocks to go and didn't even get wet since the bulk of the storm waited until I got in the house. I do carry a folded raincoat packet but would have had to stop to put it on. The storm was a bit earlier than had been forecast....

Thanks for the response. Things I didn't know...

And thinking about this, I'm curious...would going down a street between buildings and tall trees be a slight safety factor? Would the fact you are moving add danger? As my brother puts it: "I do wonder about the oddest things!"
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:26 PM   #4
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Interesting things to concern yourself with...

It is exceedingly rare to be struck by lightning, and rarer still to do this while on a segway.

I will not comment on the advice previously given, and have no reason to believe that any of it is faulty, but you may wish to consider that I do not think it particularly likely that you will get struck by lightning, even though you clearly can do things that may or may not make your odds change.

I believe it is kind of like asking for advice on how to with the lottery, or some other thing that have the odds fantastically stacked against you.

I suspect that some people go thru their whole lives, climbing metal ladders in the rain, playing golf in the rain, and doing other things that logically seem to increase your likelihood of being struck by lightening, yet never get hit. I further suggest that others who do not do these things, who logically seem less likely to get struck, do occasionally get struck.

I wish you luck, and wish you a lightening strike free life, if that is your wish.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by KSagal View Post
Interesting things to concern yourself with...

It is exceedingly rare to be struck by lightning, and rarer still to do this while on a segway.

I will not comment on the advice previously given, and have no reason to believe that any of it is faulty, but you may wish to consider that I do not think it particularly likely that you will get struck by lightning, even though you clearly can do things that may or may not make your odds change.

I believe it is kind of like asking for advice on how to with the lottery, or some other thing that have the odds fantastically stacked against you.

I suspect that some people go thru their whole lives, climbing metal ladders in the rain, playing golf in the rain, and doing other things that logically seem to increase your likelihood of being struck by lightening, yet never get hit. I further suggest that others who do not do these things, who logically seem less likely to get struck, do occasionally get struck.

I wish you luck, and wish you a lightening strike free life, if that is your wish.
LOL. You take your chances... On the other hand, lightning is one thing I'd just as soon avoid... A neighbor had 11 head of cattle killed by lightning in this latest round of storms.. A $40,000 loss is not to be sneezed at...
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:56 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lily Kerns View Post
LOL. You take your chances... On the other hand, lightning is one thing I'd just as soon avoid... A neighbor had 11 head of cattle killed by lightning in this latest round of storms.. A $40,000 loss is not to be sneezed at...
Fair enough...

Now, at this point, I guess it would be appropriate to suggest that you do not do what those cattle were doing.

Were they walking down streets with tall buildings? Were they moving? Were they using umbrellas or segways?

Perhaps, you may wish to do a more local analysis. Where do lightening strikes in your area happen? (Around here, there are power lines on the the typically wooden telephone poles, and if one of the poles gets hit, it is either at a mounted transformer (which has a direct path to ground) or near it...)

If most of your local strikes occur in the cattle fields and not the streets you frequent, your odds are better. If most of the local lightening strikes are in the cities and towns, and less in the farm fields, then not doing the what the cows did may not help you. Of course, it did not help them either...

I am sure if you look hard enough, you will find some poor soul who wants to be struck and has been trying for years, unsuccessfully. If you find someone like this, perhaps you should hang with them. Conversely, you may run an ad, asking for those who have been struck, or relatives of those who have been struck, and stay far away from them.

Anyway you slice it, I wish you luck in your anti-quest.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:55 PM   #7
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It is exceedingly rare to be struck by lightning...
True, but the cattle obviously didn't know that.

When one quotes statistics, it's important to understand the context on which the given statistic is based.

It is exceedingly rare to be struck by lightning, if one calculates it as a percentage of the number of individuals struck (worldwide) per year, over the entire world population.

However it is much LESS rare when one calculates the statistic based on the number of those struck per year, over the number of people per year who were in dangerous lightning-prone conditions. If one glides one's Seg through a lightning storm, while cresting a hill with nothing higher than yourself..... then "exceedingly rare" clearly doesn't apply. One might still get away with it, but one's chances of being clobbered go way up when one participates in risky behavior.

Take the documented case of Roy Williams http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Sullivan
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:34 PM   #8
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would going down a street between buildings and tall trees be a slight safety factor? Would the fact you are moving add danger?
In my opinion, trees and buildings that are higher than you, and close to you, such as traveling down a street, might provide some protection from being struck directly. They're taller and the lightning leaders have a higher probability of finding a nice, juicy ground path through a building or a tree, before it finds you.

However, if lightning strikes a tree, it can explode, just like someone used explosives. Shrapnel goes everywhere. You can search for photos and videos of situations where this happened.

I think it is very unlikely that one is moving changes the probability very much. According to one source, each lightning strike consists of four "flashes", each about 30 microseconds (millionths of a second) duration. You don't move very far at 12.5 MPH in 120 microseconds.

There are zillions of people who don't take lightning warnings seriously, and every year somewhere between 6,000 and 24,000 people are killed, worldwide (estimates vary). That statistic doesn't include injuries. Most people do not die from being struck by lightning, but they often sustain significant long-term injuries.

You can either take precautions, or decide to go ahead and put up that flagpole in the storm. The dice are yours to roll.
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:54 PM   #9
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True, but the cattle obviously didn't know that.

When one quotes statistics, it's important to understand the context on which the given statistic is based.

It is exceedingly rare to be struck by lightning, if one calculates it as a percentage of the number of individuals struck (worldwide) per year, over the entire world population.

However it is much LESS rare when one calculates the statistic based on the number of those struck per year, over the number of people per year who were in dangerous lightning-prone conditions. If one glides one's Seg through a lightning storm, while cresting a hill with nothing higher than yourself..... then "exceedingly rare" clearly doesn't apply. One might still get away with it, but one's chances of being clobbered go way up when one participates in risky behavior.

Take the documented case of Roy Williams http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Sullivan

So, by trying to justify the impossible to calculate, you must conclude that those cows were riding segways over the crest of a hill in order to be hit by lightening.

Exceedingly rare does apply, because there are billions of people exposed in one form or another to lightening, and a few thousand die (by your numbers, which you said yourself cannot be accurately calculated)

Are you saying that you know for a fact, or can prove statistically, that keeping your feet together and squatting down is safer than some other position, or are you extrapolating other data and applying it here? I suspect you do not have direct evidence.

Also, are you saying that every person who rides a segway in the rain is more likely to be struck by lightening than someone else in some other situation?

I do not believe there is enough data to make a realistic conclusion based on fact, but instead you are applying what you believe to be reasonable assumptions. (I am not even arguing that they are not reasonable, I suspect they might be okay assumptions)

There are so many other factors not discussed, that I believe have a greater impact on someone's likelihood of being hurt by lightening than what has been discussed here so far.

Just because of the shear numbers, I suspect there are more people in wood framed houses each year that are hurt from lightening that those who ride on segways over ridges, with metal framed umbrellas over their heads.

I know you are just trying to say that I am wrong, and that may be so. I surely hope no one gets struck by lightening as a result of the comments I have made in this thread. I am confident that no one will avoid getting struck by lightening by the content in this thread either. I may be wrong, I have been wrong in the past, I will be wrong in the future, but I am still confident that this thread will have no measurable impact on any people getting struck by lightening.

Have a nice day...
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Old 05-11-2015, 07:11 PM   #10
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LOL. I think we've probably carried this far enough toward the useless/ridiculous....

The 11 cows I referred to were expensive breeding stock. Standing under a tree. In the same storm, a house was hit and burned. Nothing to fool around with!

Moral of the story, I guess is to err on the side of caution...

BTW in the same spirit as the rest of this conversation and because things have been a bit dull around this forum, would anyone care to provide advice on how to manage an open umbrella while riding a Segway? One with the wind openings near the top might be more manageable.... A wind from your backside might be useful (if you can see around the umbrella). How would that affect the seg's maximum speed? Otherwise you are creating your own wind which would act as a brake.....

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