Three siblings have had an extremely lucky escape after being struck by lightning underneath a tree on Monday. However, what makes the story particularly special is that they managed to snap a photo of the lightning strike – almost exactly as it struck them.
The lightning hit after particularly heavy rain had been falling over Molesey Lock, in southwest London. Isobel, Rachel, and Andrew Jobson made a stop to allow Rachel a bathroom break, during which time the other two sought shelter under a tree. Enjoying their wet day out bicycling, they took the opportunity to grab a few pictures while they waited out the worst of it.
However, mother nature had other ideas. Standing under a tree in a thunderstorm can be extremely dangerous – lightning looks for the path of least resistance, and that is often the tallest object in the area. Sure enough, a bolt of lightning struck the trio, knocking them to the ground and leaving them injured.
"All of a sudden I was on the ground and couldn't hear anything apart from this high-pitched buzzing,” said Rachel to the BBC.
"My whole right arm was numb and I couldn't move it."
All three siblings were taken to hospital after passers-by helped them to their feet. After being treated for burns, the siblings were discharged back home, and none were seriously injured. They have since reached out to media outlets to express their gratitude to St George’s Hospital, where they were treated, to thank the hospital for the impressive care.
In the event of serious weather and the potential for lightning strikes, the National Center for Environmental Health advises a number of protective measures to ensure you are sheltered from injury. The number one advice is their tagline “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors”. This includes any enclosed shelter, be it your home, office, shops, or even a hard-top vehicle (roll the windows up!).
If this isn’t an option and you’re caught out in the open, immediately remove yourself from any high ground. Hills and ridges are prime targets for lightning strikes, and being atop them makes you the highest object in the immediate area. Avoid trees and cliffs, and if all else fails, crouch low to the ground in a ball-like position with your hands over your ears. Keep as minimal contact with the ground as possible.
Although the selfie remains a once-in-a-lifetime event, it also allows us time to remind ourselves of the dangers of lightning – thankfully, the Jobson trio escaped with only some incredible-looking Lichtenberg figures.