Watch out for deadly lightning strikes!

Thursday afternoon, I escaped, narrowly, becoming the latest statistic of death by lightning; that is probably because, deep down my heart, I knew I hadn’t robbed or annoyed anyone and God agreed with me because when I checked, shortly after the thunder strike, I was still in one piece.

It got me thinking; perhaps I am an immortal being. But that would be blasphemous, says the Christian in me. So, let’s just say, I got lucky or spared so I could share my experience in this commentary and perhaps help save a few lives. So here is how it all happened.

A recent development in my life changed my daily routine so, these days, I get home early, and sometimes, I don’t leave at all. But on Thursday, I had a 2pm meeting with a potential client which ended at exactly 3pm. Then our unpredictable weather suddenly switched from sunny to rainy.

So, it was raining when I got to my gate; rapper Kendrick Lamar’s song, ‘Be humble’ was playing on the car hi-fi…‘Be humble…Sit down…Be humble…’

The song reminds of two friends; Ritah, a former workmate who likes to deploy the line, whenever she suspects someone is being braggadocio during a conversation. The other person is George Ndirangu, who has a message along those lines, pinned to his Twitter timeline.

So, here I was, at the gate and it was raining, heavily. No humble person in the world would hoot the gate-man out of their warm shelter into the wet afternoon, simply because the guy who pays him Rwf50k a month wanted to drive their rattletrap of a car, through the gate.

Being a humble soul, I sauntered out of the car and stepped into the rain to open the gate for myself, using a copy of the key that I kept, for when I got home at immoral hours of the night say, 3am, when most decent human beings are tucked away in the warmth of their beds.

So, I opened the gate, went back into the jalopy and drove it through, to its usual parking spot. No sooner had I jumped out of the car, just as I walked back to close the gate than a lightning struck with a loud thunder, the ground between me and the bumper of the car. I froze!

For a moment, I thought I was dead and just to be sure, I tried to move my hands and touched myself, then I moved one leg forward, turned my neck to see whether the car was burning. But everything seemed to be in one piece and I concluded that I wasn’t the victim of the strike.

Stunned, I scuttled towards the gate, closed it and scurried back to find my way into the house. There, I found a friend whom I had left at my place equally astonished. He reported that the lightning had struck through the electronics leaving behind a whishing chorus.

A quick audit returned a gloomy report. The adaptor connecting the DSTV decoder to the TV and a laptop charger were destroyed.

It turned out we were lucky because, according to an alarmist, the damage could have been more extensive. He also said; “your car could have caught fire had the engine been running at the time of the lightening, count yourself lucky.”

Last month, at least 16 people were killed and hundreds injured after lightning struck a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Nyaruguru District, in Rwanda’s Southern Province.

I know the church quite well and the story brought back frigid memories of my time there in 2009, as a teacher trainer, working and residing at Ruheru Sector, near the border with Burundi.

Thanks to the friendly RDF soldiers residing at a nearby military barracks, I was taught survival tactics in that rather rugged village; one Lieutenant, Manasseh, warned me about the danger of lightning in the area: “It is a danger at all times,” he told me.

“Be careful whenever it drizzles, you could easily get struck to death,” said the lieutenant.

Physics or any other science subject was never my cup of tea in high school, but the Thursday incident reminded me of one lesson about lightning; the physics teacher (who committed suicide, a month ago) taught us that…

“The main objective of lightning is to find a path of least resistance from the cloud to, deep into the ground and most houses are filled with many potential routes for lightning to follow in its journey,” faint memories of my late Physics teacher.

Basically, in a house, anything conductive is a likely route for the lightning to follow and these could include gas and water pipes, electric lines, phone lines, cable TV/internet lines, gutters, downspouts, metal window frames; this explains why I lost the laptop and decoder adaptors.

Therefore, whenever it is raining, always switch off all electronic devices inside the house to reduce chances of them being used as a possible route for the lighting into the ground.

This may not be new information but perhaps, the reason I escaped being struck on Thursday, was to remind you so you avoid potentially becoming a statistic of death by lightning.

The views expressed in this article  are of the author.


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