There are five ways you can be struck by lightning according to the National Weather Service.

  1. Direct Strike: A person struck directly by lightning normally occurs in an open area. The main lightning discharge is channeled through your body. This is not the most common way of being struck by lightning but can be the most deadly.
  2. Side Flash: A side flash occurs when lightning strikes a taller object near the person and a portion of the current goes through you. Generally side flashes occur when the person is 1-2 feet away from the object. This is why you should never stand under a tree.
  3. Ground Current: When the lightning strikes a tree or another tall object the energy travels outwards along the ground. The person who is near the object struck would be affected by the ground current.
  4. Conduction: Light can travel long distances in metal or wires. While, contrary to belief metal does not attract lightning but it does provide a path for it to follow. Most indoor and some outdoor lightning causalities are due to conduction. Do not hold on to pipes, metal dense, or wires because the lightning can travel through them and through you.
  5. Streamer: Steamers develop as the downward-moving leader approaches the ground. The main channel reaches the ground near the person but smaller channels can branch off the mainline and strike you. This type is quite uncommon but can be just as deadly or cause serious injury.