National Weather Service
National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

How Dangerous is Lightning?

Lightning is a major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S. A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.

According to the NWS Storm Data, over the last 30 years (1986-2015) the U.S. has averaged 48 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.  More recently, in the last 10 years (2006-2015), the U.S. has averaged 31 lightning fatalities.


Odds of Becoming a Lightning Victim
(based on averages for 2006-2015
)

Estimated U.S. population as of 2016

318,000,000

Average Number of Deaths Reported

31

Estimated number of Injuries

279

310

Odds of being struck in a given year (estimated total deaths + injuries)

1/042,000

Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years)

1/13,000

Odds you will be affected by someone struck (10 people for every 1 struck)

1/1,300