Jan. 3 — A security guard in Indonesia is lucky to be alive after he miraculously survived a lightning strike last month.
Abdul Rosyid, 35, was on patrol as rain fell at a depot in the coastal town of Cilincing in North Jakarta, Indonesia, on Dec. 20. As Rosyid was walking, a bolt of lightning struck his umbrella.
CCTV footage captured the moment lightning zapped the umbrella Rosyid was holding. The lightning instantly vaporized the umbrella and created an explosion of sparks, knocking Rosyid to the ground. The footage of the incident can be seen at the top of this story and can be difficult to watch.
The security guard lay motionless after being shocked as his coworkers rushed to his side and transported him to a nearby hospital where he was treated for burns to the hand that was holding the umbrella. Amazingly, he was discharged after just four days.
The incident brings up a popular myth that warns holding an umbrella attracts lightning. As explained in an article published by Real Simple, which debunked the myth with the help of National Weather Service Meteorologist and Lightning Safety Expert John Jensenius, metal doesn’t attract lightning, but it can conduct lightning.
The electric discharge from the clouds can travel through the metal rod of the umbrella, resulting in the electric discharge to the person carrying it.
As noted in Real Simple, “Metal doesn’t attract lightning. Even a lightning rod doesn’t, it can only conduct lightning, should a bolt happen to strike nearby. People who are zapped while holding a golf club or listening to an iPod are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Lightning is caused by electrical imbalances between the clouds and the ground. About 100 cloud-to-ground bolts strike the Earth every second, with each bolt containing up to a billion volts of electricity.
The danger of a lightning strike depends on many factors, including where a person is when struck or even the amount of water on the person’s skin. When lightning strikes someone, most of the current flashes across the surface of a person’s skin, with only a small fraction entering someone’s body.
“It’s such an overwhelming amount of energy that not all of it can go through the person,” Jensenius previously told AccuWeather. “It’s like taking a gallon bucket of water and in three seconds trying to pour it all through a straw.”
The actual risk of being struck by lightning is very low, with odds being set at one in 15,300 of a person being hit in their lifetime (estimated at 80 years), according to the NWS. Experts recommend remaining vigilant and taking proper safety precautions when lightning is a risk in your area.