Lightning Strike Mortality Rates

New thread for tangent posts in Gun Violence thread; mods, have fun.

Some seemingly obvious factors: Weather and whether you are out standing in your field. Given our transition from agrarian to industrial I am not surprised the US’s per capita fatality rate for lightning strikes has decreased. Likewise, I am not surprised that Mexico has a high rate. I would be curious if it shows the same trend over time.

Are we doing a gun comparison?

Lightning fatalities are 80% male, reminds me of guns.

However lightning strikes are only 10% fatal, unlike guns. Possibly Thor should invest in higher caliber bolts?


Just ban going outside in thunderstorms. Should eliminate the deaths.

Pretty much what people mostly do on their own, or because parents say so. In my local soccer organization for American youths, we stop play when we hear thunder, get players to cars or to the one building. Now, in SoCal, that’s mighty rare, twice in the past 20 years.
Because, what if we didn’t?

Now, “storm’s a-coming” gives people a lot of lead time. We even have forecasters for it on the news.
“Gun-toting psychopath’s a-coming”? Not so much.

Also, hate to bring it up, but more children die from drowning in pools than by firearms. But, in the same way, different mindsets apply. “Oh, there’s a pool, gotta keep an eye out for children swimming.” (Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t, and/or, according to meep, don’t know what drowning-but-savable looks like.)
No one gets warned or keeps an eye out on the gun-toting psychopath. Our sense of control (and lack of it) is what makes us anxious,

Longer term US trends.

My phone has recently started warning me when there are lightning strikes near my most recent location. It does a pretty good job letting me know when it is going to start raining, so I trust it is accurate. Of course, I can just open up the app and look at the radar loop to find out more.

I am not sure if this is a new feature, or one I just turned on, or common to other weather apps, but I’d think phones will continue to reduce the number of fatalities based on the advanced warning they can provide beyond your senses when outdoors.

I saw some news story quite a while back about devices installed at ball fields that warn of impending lightning…because lightning can strike before those big dark clouds are overhead.

This reminds me of the public/neighborhood pool rule that suspends swimming for 20-30 minutes if the lifeguard “hears” thunder. It is sometimes overkill, as the storm may be passing by 15 miles away and barely audible. We’ve gone with the policy of “zero public swimming pool lightning deaths”.

Oh man, I’ve used up my free articles. Anyone care to copy/paste or summarize?

Does it give a breakdown of workplace vs other? I thought the death rate was historically higher among professions that involve being outside of tall structures such as loggers and the people installing repairing telephone & electrical wires. I thought that improved safety rules in those professions was largely responsible for the improvement. But now I’m not seeing the source where I read that.

The chart I recall seeing had deaths per million basically track with the rural population %.

Well, these stats aren’t 10% fatalities, but it’s not like the order of magnitude is much higher – like 20% vs 10%. Shot placement is key:

no, no, I will not

2x is a big deal imo. It’s weird to me when people talk about a problem that is reduced by 50% as though it’s similar at all…

According to this, medium caliber and large caliber guns are 2x and 4x more lethal than small caliber.

1 Like

How much would it have to be before you’d consider the order of magnitude much higher than 10%?

1 Like

50% :wink:

Anyway, it’s not terribly relevant re: guns, in that most of the gunshot wounds are intentional, and it’s not like we literally have Thor throwing thunderbolts.

That people may not be great shots, or that trauma medicine has improved so that people survive peripheral gunshot wounds better is interesting, but it’s not like homicides are like weather. I don’t really see the point of comparing them.

FFS, I’m annoyed by all the “accidental” causes of death getting lumped together, when I’ve got two bad trends – drug ODs and falls – getting lumped together and they’ve got two very different cause-and-effect profiles (not to mention ages affected).

I understand why the CDC lumps certain causes together, but that car crashes, drug ODs, falls, drowning, lightning strikes, accidental gun deaths, and all sorts of crap in this one bucket isn’t terribly helpful when you see it on ranking lists.

Those accidents for age 1-4 are of a very different nature for age 35-44.

1 Like