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271 killed in the last decade: Facts and myths about lightning

In the U.S. lightning has killed 12 people so far this year. Here's what they were doing when it happened.

Lightning isn't something you want to mess around with.

In the last decade, 271 people were killed by lightning, according to records kept by the National Weather Service.

So far this year, 12 people were killed by lightning.

The latest fatality was confirmed Monday by the National Weather Service.

Weather investigators say she was struck by lightning while working on a roof.

Five other people were also on the roof at the time and all five were injured by the strike.

RELATED: Florida woman fatally struck by lightning while working on roof

Here’s what the other 11 victims were doing when they were struck and killed by lightning this year:

-Two were out fishing

-Two were at the beach

-Two were out hiking

-One was working on a roof

-The rest were camping, boating, riding a motorcycle, and walking.

The National Weather Service says nearly 90% of people who are struck by lightning will survive, but many will suffer life altering injuries.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about lightning, so we asked the National Weather Service to help us separate fact from fiction:

MYTH: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

BILL BORGHOFF- NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE Lead Forecaster: “That’s false. Buildings get struck all the time, numerous times. There are tall buildings out there that get hit multiple times a year. So, yeah, things can get hit twice.”

MYTH: If there’s lightning, you should go under a tree to stay safe.

BORGHOFF: “That’s false. Trees are good conductors of electricity. If it gets struck and you’re standing right by it you can get struck as well. Trees actually account for nearly half of the fatalities associated with lightning.”

RELATED: Lightning strike injures 8 people on Clearwater Beach, Florida

MYTH: You’ll be safe in a vehicle because the rubber tires will protect you from the lightning.

BORGHOFF: “It’s actually the steel body surrounding the vehicle that will protect you. It will take the lightning strike and guide it to the ground.”

MYTH: If you’re caught outside, you should lay on the ground.

BORGHOFF: “False. If lightning strikes the ground, or some object nearby, the electricity can travel through the ground and can strike you indirectly. So, what you want to do is get on the balls of your feet, minimize as much contact with the ground as you can, while still getting close to the ground. You want to squat as far as you can and minimize the contact with the ground.”

MYTH: Lightning always strikes the tallest object.

BORGHOFF: “That’s false. Lightning is pretty random. It really doesn’t have any thought process going into it, whatever the currents decide to do, they’re going to do it. Often times lightning will strike the tallest object, because it’s the easiest path for lightning to take, but not always.”

MYTH: No clouds, no rain, you’re safe from lighting.

BORGHOFF: “False. Lightning can strike ten to fifteen miles away from a parent thunder storm. So, it can be sunny where you’re located, but the lightning could jump from the storm and still hit you ten miles away.”

MYTH: Wearing metal objects on your body, like a watch, or jewelry, will attract lightning.

BORGHOFF: “That’s a good question. I would have to say no. There’s really no way to know that for sure, but my thought is, if you’re going to get struck, you’re probably going to get struck regardless of what you’re wearing.”

MYTH: If someone gets struck by lightning and you touch them, you can get shocked.

BORGHOFF: “False. As soon as a lightning strikes it’s done. There’s no more current left and you should tend to that person immediately.”

And two of our viewers also wanted us to ask if it's true you can get struck by lightning while taking a shower.

The National Weather Service says yes you can, though according to records, no one has died from it in the last 15 years.

And yes, you can also get struck while using electronics inside your home.

According to National Weather Service records, in 2006 a Mississippi man was killed while talking on a corded phone.

Lightning traveled through the line and struck him on the other end.

So, if you still have one, you might want to avoid using it during a storm.

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