Human Body
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What Happens to Your Body When You're Hit by Lightning

Updated October 10, 2019 835.9k views16 items

The chances of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 13,000, and the odds of dying from a lightning strike are even lower. However, that doesn't keep the prospect of being struck by lightning from being morbidly fascinating and kind of terrifying. It just seems like Zeus is striking you down, or that you've won (or lost) some sort of ethereal lottery. Maybe you're wondering how it feels when you're struck by lightning. Well, thanks to some helpful survivors, we actually have a pretty solid idea of how that goes. 

When talking about what it's like to be hit by lightning, it's important to note that it's basically the biggest shock your body can take. You're getting hit with more electricity, heat, and force than you can get from basically anywhere else, so it's hard to compare to other things. However, your body does have a few ways of compensating, and the experience is bound to be, at the least, memorable.

So if you're still curious about what lightning strikes feel like, time to take a deep breath and keep reading. Some of these details, pictures, and concepts are a little graphic, so proceed with caution if you're squeamish. 

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  • You Will Be in Sudden, Searing Pain

    With the impact, the burning, and the scarring, you can bet that it's all going to hurt. As in, holy lightning bolts Batman, does that frickin' hurt! Most people say that they can feel the pain in their bones and that they barely recognize their own body due to all the pain and confusion they feel. Phil Broscovak, who was struck by lightning while on a rock climbing trip in 2005, explains it like this: "It felt like being stung by 10,000 wasps at the same time, from the inside out. I can’t describe how much pain I was in."

    So, at this point you're cooking, you feel like you've been punched, you're scarred up, and you're in searing pain. What more could go wrong?

  • Your Clothing May Literally Fly Off

    It's not too surprising that, while being literally knocked off your feet by a bolt of lightning, you might be thrown around a little. As it turns out, so will certain items of your clothing. People have reported their shoes and socks flying off, and other have reported their clothing tearing or burning off of their bodies suddenly. The shoes, in particular, seem to go flying due to the fact that the sudden, intense heat over your body vaporizes the moisture on your skin and clothes.

    If you have sweaty feet, the water vaporizes and expands so rapidly and unexpectedly that it can genuinely knock your shoes off. It can even send them tumbling some distance away!

  • Your Ear Drums May Burst

    When you think of the most common injuries from a lightning strike, you probably think of burns and bruising, right? Well, one of the most common injuries is actually a burst ear drum. When it strikes, the lightning also creates pretty powerful shock waves around the source of the strike. If you happen to be the source of the strike, those shock waves move through your body, disrupting your eyes, internal organs, and most noticeably, your ears.

    The force of it can even cause them to simply rupture, leaving you unable to hear the world around you for the time being.

  • Your Friends Might Get Hit Too

    You might feel like if lighting hits you when you're out with friends, then they're super lucky they got away scot free! Well, that's not quite true. You see, when lightning hits, it tends to hit more than one person. If you're with a friend, chances are they're about to be hit, or they could be struck down with the same lightening bolt that came after you!

    In a few rare cases, lightning strikes can hit large groups of people, or animals, with deadly and horrifying results, as you can see in the video. So no, traveling in a group won't save you from Zeus's wrath. And we know what they say about best friends sharing everything, but this seems like taking it a little far.