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Risk of using mobile phone during Lightning?

There is news coming here and there regarding the lightning strike to a person using mobile phones in the lightning period. In Nepal also, such news of an injury to people deaths in remote mountainous areas are reported quite frequently. The incident is a kind of myth that is popular in remote areas. They also do not prefer using other electronic devices during the storm.

With such incidents, locals are kind of fearful of using mobile phones in lightning or thunderstorm. They either do not carry their mobile with them or put it off during lightning time.  But is it true that using a cell phone in such areas is hazardous during lightning that it could possibly strike you? What science has to say on this?? We are here to tell you the fact.

Myths

The popular belief of risk of using mobile phones in a storm is not true. People say that metals attract charge so when they use mobile, it could strike you. The mobile itself has very little of metal in it, some mobiles are wholly made of plastic from outside. Mobile phone also being a low power device, do not tend to attract lightning (high power).

The lightning always hit the highest point on the surface. If you are outside and near to  metallic structures or trees, you are likely to be struck. That do not have any relation to whether you are using mobile phones or not. Wrong position and wrong timing may result in getting shocked from lightning. So, you have to be aware of avoiding the risk-prone area than mobile phones.

But if you use an umbrella, it is highly likely to get stuck. If you have some metal in your head, it is likely to strike you. This is according to a paper by Dr. Mary Ann Cooper.

So science says there is no relation to using mobile phones and the risk of getting hit by lightning. Experts do recommend using mobile phones in such a situation, for emergency purposes. Either you live there or you are there for traveling,  you need mobile phones.

Whereas experts do not recommend to use wired phones like Landline phones during lightning. As the extra current from lightning may burn the device and it may hurt the person carrying the receiver from high voltage surge.

What science has to say about this?

Dr. Mary Ann Cooper- Associate Professor, Departments of Emergency Medicine and Bio-engineering, University of Illinois in Chicago, in her paper on lightning injury points out that:

“No lightning danger is inherent to cellular phones. Although many reports of lightning injuries involve people who are using cell phones, these reports represent the ubiquity of cell phone usage and of their users’ inattentiveness to weather conditions and have nothing to do with the phones themselves.”

Dr Cooper also clarifies that electrical lightning damage only occurs with the use of landline (wired) phones and not from mobile phones.

Hope we have made everything clear for the popular myth of having risk of using mobile phones in lightning .

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