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Why Beaches are Among the World's Most Deadliest Spots

Aug 15, 2016 04:02 AM EDT
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Thinking of going to the beach on a rainy afternoon? Think again.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that in beaches, there are other things more dangerous than sunburns and sharks, such as lightning. There is no safe place outside when lightning strikes. And lightning makes beaches one of the most dangerous places.

John Jensenius, a safety specialist tells Live Science that lightning deaths in beaches has become a worrying trend. According to NOAA, in the U.S. alone, lightning is one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury with a total of 338 noted deaths from 2006 to 2016.

"If you are on the beach, chances are you're the tallest thing in the immediate area, which makes you more vulnerable to being struck directly by lightning," Jensenius told Live Science.

"One of the problems is that people don't react quickly enough. They don't like to be inconvenienced by thunderstorms, so people tend to wait outside too long before seeking safety."

National Geographic defines lightning as a giant discharge of electricity that comes with a bright flash of light and a loud crack of thunder. There are over 8 million lightning bolts charged every day.

What happens when lightning hits the sea? BBC explains most of the electrical discharge spreads horizontally rather than vertically. Therefore, making it dangerous to people swimming on the water.

"If you are in the open sea, rather like standing in an open field, you might become a target during a storm," Jon Shonk, a meteorologist at the University of Reading tells BBC.

Early this August, a five-year-old boy died after getting struck by a lightning on North Carolina's Outer Banks, CNN reported. 

Best tip to remember when on beach when you hear a thunderstorm is to immediately get out of the water and find a shelter such as inside a cabin or inside your car.

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