Lightning Safety and Education in India: Ensuring Safety and Raising Awareness
signals do not increase the probability of a lightning strike. It is important to note that the claims made in the videos regarding lightning protection systems are non-scientific and should not be relied upon.
In conclusion, the lack of scientific knowledge and the promotion of non-scientific principles on lightning safety and mitigation in India is a concerning issue. The high number of deaths and damage caused by lightning each year emphasizes the need for accurate information and effective lightning protection systems. It is crucial to rely on scientifically proven methods and seek guidance from reputable sources when it comes to lightning safety. Awareness programs and mass education on lightning safety, like those conducted by LARC, are essential in making progress towards reducing the risks associated with lightning strikes in India.
Full Article: Lightning Safety and Education in India: Ensuring Safety and Raising Awareness
Lightning hazards are ubiquitous regardless of the status of any nation. However, availing the existing scientific knowledge of Lightning Protection System (LPS), developed nations have significantly mitigated the loss of lives and property whereas, the scenario in the developing countries is different. Lightning safety is a vital subject in India. Annually more than 1500 people get killed due to lightning and is considered the highest among all natural disasters. Damage to electrical and electronic equipment add up to a loss of crores of rupees per year.
We have been involved in mass awareness programs on Lightning Safety since 2006. These programs are supported by some of the leading scientists on lightning science, as a result it gained reputation in several Asian countries. Reports of some of our previous programs in Kerala can be downloaded here in Note: VIDYUT SURAKSHIT BHARANABHIYAN is a mass awareness program on electrical safety conducted by LARC.
Wide spread promotion on nonscientific principles of Lightning Safety and mitigation techniques
During the last years some agencies claimed to be supported by the INDIA METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT (IMD) are conducting wide spread awareness programs on Lightning and advising several state governments on Lightning mitigating methods. Unfortunately NON SCIENTIFIC methods and knowledge are being taught in these campaigns. One such case we already included as a blog about Lightning protection in India & Cycle tire LPS.
During May 2022, Lightning mitigation methods followed in Bangladesh has been published in the media, which was conceptualized by CROPC – Lightning Resilient India Campaign. (Claimed to be supported by Govt of India) (ref Fig 1).
Fig 1: News from the media about planting palm trees, its failure and installation of advanced IOT based LPS.
With the plan of planting palm trees to arrest lightning failing, the disaster management ministry is now taking up a project to set up shelter houses and arresters to curb deaths due to lightning strikes.
Under the new project, shelter houses and internet of things (IoT)-based lightning arresters will be initially set up in lightning-prone areas of 15 districts.
In 2017, the disaster management ministry took up a project of planting palm trees across the country to reduce the number of deaths from lightning strikes. However, it could plant only 38 lakh of them.
State Minister for Disaster Management Enamur Rahman said they have stopped planting palm trees. “It takes a long time for a palm tree to grow. Hence, we have taken a modern approach to prevent deaths from lightning,”.
The IoT-based lightning arresters will be useful in checking whether an arrester is working properly.
Videos of training, claim and facts
Video 1 to 4 are from the technical seminars and training classes by these agencies on Lightning mitigation techniques.
Video 1: 5 types of Lightning Protection System, and area protection implemented by some state governments.
Explanation Why NONSCIENTIFIC:
Claim: New technology of active lightning protection devices which are emission based:
Fact: The active lightning protection rods are introduced almost 50 years back. There are two techniques claimed by the respective manufacturers. One is called as Early Streamer emission (also called as controlled streamer emission (ESE and CSE)), which claims to attract lightning and avoid lightning strike over a large area. The second one is called as Lightning Elimination system (also called as Dissipation Array System (DAS)), which claims a theory opposite to the first one (means these rods repel lighting). Both these claims are not scientifically proved and hence these are not accepted as practical. More information on the claims of ESE/CSE/DAS and its disapproval can be downloaded from the links provided in the annex (read after the conclusion).
Claim: Emission based active devices create positive cloud all around. Any lightning developing in the vicinity gets attracted and earthed. So, you may have lightning sound and flash in the sky, but it will not hit the ground.
Fact: Lightning is of two types, positive and negative. If the emission based active rod is creating positive charges around it, (a) from where it always gets positive charge (positively charged ions: creating these charges require energy, these ions are neither created nor supplied to these rods). (b) what will happen in case of a lightning, when the cloud is negatively charged or positively charged. (c) if it is not hitting the ground, where does it go??. The claims are due to the fact that common man does not understand the subject in detail and believe these false claims.
Claim: Hybrid device, which is a mix of emitter based and a conductor for area protection. Jharkhand have made a lightning safe city.
Fact: Lightning itself is a probabilistic event. Due to its probabilistic nature, there are places where lightning may not hit for several years. It may require decades to prove the efficiency of an LPS. Globally there were several such claims in the past, which was proved wrong on later dates.
Video 2: Hill lightning and cattle protection.
Fact: Viewers are requested to make a note that the claims of this video is completely NON SCIENTIFIC.
Video 3: Lateral strikes, protection by compound wall and planting tall trees to dissipate lightning.
Fact: Planting tall trees to dissipate lightning is dangerous. Trees will not work as a lightning protection mast. The safe method is to keep away from tall trees during lightning in order to avoid step and touch potentials and side flashes, which may create fatal accidents.
Claim: Planting trees to dissipate lightning.
Fact: This is dangerous. Please keep yourself away from trees, which is one of the fundamental safety measure to be followed, when you are in outdoors.
Claim: Lateral strikes.
Fact: Tall objects may have lightning strikes on its side called as side flash. The lightning current flow through the soil will create step potentials which can be fatal to people standing on the soil. But this is limited to few 10’s of meters around the point of strike. Lateral strikes (which is due to a vertical strike) will flows to several KM’s in open area and endanger people is wrong.
Claim: Hill Lightning, Jungle area lightning, River basin lightning, Coastal lightning, Urban Lightning, Semi urban lightning.
Fact: Lightning is same everywhere, the differentiation is only between Positive stroke and Negative Stroke.
Video 4: Mobile phones and Lightning on people due to mobile phone signals.
Fact: Viewers are requested to make a note that wireless mobile phone signal attracting lighting is a misconcept. Signals from a mobile phone does not increase the probability of a lightning strike. If the person is on outdoors, the lightning may hit him regardless of him using a mobile phone with full signal.
Valleys of mountains are not safe during lightning as explained in the video no 2. Planting tall trees to dissipate lightning is dangerous (video 3). Trees will not work as a lightning protection mast.
Summary: Lightning Safety and Education in India: Ensuring Safety and Raising Awareness
This blog highlights the issue of misinformation and non-scientific approaches to lightning safety and mitigation techniques in India. Despite the prevalence of lightning hazards in the country, the lack of proper knowledge and promotion of incorrect methods have led to numerous deaths and significant property damage. The blog discusses the efforts of the Lightning Awareness and Research Centre (LARC) in raising awareness about lightning safety. It also raises concerns about government agencies promoting nonscientific principles and shares examples of such methods. The blog concludes by debunking misconceptions surrounding lightning protection and emphasizing the importance of accurate information and proper safety measures.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Lightning Safety & Education in India: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is lightning safety?
Lightning safety refers to taking precautions and understanding how to protect oneself and others from the dangers of lightning strikes. It involves being aware of lightning-related hazards, knowing what to do during a thunderstorm, and educating oneself on lightning safety measures.
Q2: Why is lightning safety important in India?
India experiences a high frequency of lightning strikes, especially during the monsoon season. Lightning strikes can cause injuries, deaths, and damage to property and infrastructure. Having proper lightning safety measures in place is crucial to minimize these risks and ensure the well-being of individuals and communities.
Q3: What are the common myths about lightning in India?
There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding lightning in India. Some common ones include:
- Using a mobile phone outdoors during a thunderstorm increases the chances of getting struck by lightning.
- Standing under a tree provides adequate protection from lightning.
- Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Q4: How can I stay safe during a thunderstorm?
To stay safe during a thunderstorm, follow these lightning safety tips:
- Seek shelter in a sturdy building or a fully enclosed metal vehicle.
- Avoid open areas, tall structures, water bodies, and metal objects.
- If caught in an open area, crouch down with your feet together, minimizing contact with the ground.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and electrical appliances.
- Wait at least 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder before resuming outdoor activities.
Q5: How can I protect my home from lightning strikes?
To protect your home from lightning strikes, consider these safety measures:
- Use a lightning protection system consisting of lightning rods, conductors, and grounding systems.
- Unplug sensitive electrical equipment during a thunderstorm to avoid damage from power surges.
- Avoid taking showers or using landline phones during a thunderstorm.
Q6: Are there any organizations in India that provide lightning safety education?
Yes, in India, there are several organizations and government agencies that provide lightning safety education. Some prominent ones include:
- National Lightning Safety Institute (NLSI)
- India Meteorological Department (IMD)
- National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
- State Disaster Management Authorities
Q7: Are there any educational resources available for lightning safety in India?
Yes, there are various educational resources available for lightning safety in India. These include online articles, brochures, pamphlets, videos, and workshops conducted by relevant organizations. These resources aim to raise awareness and provide guidelines on lightning safety measures.