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September 27, 2018
Are you worried that your metal building might attract lightning? We've all been there. Fortunately, I've got good news and great news.
Here's the deal:
The common myth is that out of all types of structures, metal buildings are the most prone to lightning strikes. In other words, metal buildings and metal roofs are basically lightning magnets. Makes sense, right?
A ton of other crazy myths are also still floating around—including that being outside in a lightning storm is safe as long as you're not wearing metal jewelry and that wearing metal cleats or carrying something with metal makes you more prone to getting struck by lightning.
I bet you're thinking, “OK, but then what is lightning really attracted to?”
Long story short, lightning is not actually attracted to specific materials. Lightning can strike anything. Overall, “lightning occurs on too large of a scale to be influenced by small objects on the ground, including metal objects.”
That’s the good news.
Ready for the great news?
Because metal buildings are not especially prone to lightning strikes, you can easily take precautions to ensure that you and your steel structures are safe!
Most people know that counting the seconds between the flash of lightning and the following crash of thunder gives the approximate number of miles between you and the storm.
So, instead of worrying that lightning may have it in for you or your building, here's what you need to know:
As it turns out, steel is not a lightning magnet! Lightning does not care about the small amount of metal that you might be wearing or carrying.
Instead, lightning is most attracted to targets that are higher off of the ground.
On the slight chance that a steel building or roof is struck by lightning, both are less likely than other types of building and roofing materials to spark a fire. A metal building and roof will usually survive a lightning strike with minimal damage.
In fact, a properly grounded metal building actually creates a more secure way for lightning to travel. Should your metal roof or building be grounded? The answer is a definite yes!