Malaysia’s lightning strikes: A spectacular if dangerous show

The rainy season is upon us and along with it comes thunderstorms and the risk posed by lightning strikes. (Rawpixel pic)

Lightning strikes in Malaysia are a very common occurrence due to its tropical climate and location.

Malaysia’s thunderstorms are spectacular, violent and very frequent.

The Klang Valley itself has an average of 240 days of thunderstorms in a year.

Places like London pales in comparison with only just 10 days of thunderstorms in a year.

Malaysia has one of the highest number of lightning strikes in the world which led to 132 deaths over a ten-year period up to August 2019.

Of these, 89 were in Peninsular Malaysia, 22 in Sabah and 21 in Sarawak.

In 1987, Subang recorded flashes of lightning on 362 days of the year – not the best place to locate an airport!

Kuala Lumpur has the highest rate of lightning strikes in Asia.

Dos and dont’s during a thunderstorm

If you are safely at home or in a car during a thunderstorm, you can enjoy the show and marvel at the power of nature.

However, if you are caught outdoors, while hiking, for example, it can be quite a frightening experience.

During thunderstorms, one should take shelter inside a building as soon as possible and avoid standing under a tree. (Rawpixel pic)

If you cannot reach the shelter of a sturdy building, sound advice is to make yourself small by squatting down with your feet together, arms tucked in and head down between your knees.

This is a similar position to the brace position during a plane crash, it is said to be the best you can do.

Avoid taking shelter under trees and stay away from iron or copper pipes.

Never use an umbrella. Remember that lightning can strike even before it starts to rain and can continue after the rain has stopped.

Stay away from electrical equipment and cables, including telephone landlines. Mobile phones are safer.

Having wet clothes apparently reduces the chance of serious injuries if you are struck by lightning as it allows the current to flow over your clothes rather than through your body.

This article first appeared in Malaysia Traveller