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Sexist lightning? Study reveals 8 out of 10 killed by lightning are men

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Andrea Bagley
Digital Reporter

Monday, June 30, 2014, 11:23 AM - Sexist lighting. Could there be such a thing?

According to a recent report from NOAA, 81 percent of lightning death victims over the last eight years were men.

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"Based on the statistics for gender, the vast majority of lightning victims are male. Possible explanations for this finding are that males are unaware of all the dangers associated with lightning, are more likely to be in vulnerable situations, are unwilling to be inconvenienced by the threat of lightning, are in situations that make it difficult to get to a safe place in a timely manner, don't react quickly to the lightning threat, or any combination of these explanations," the report reads. "In short, because of their behavior, males are at a higher risk of being struck and, consequently, are struck and killed by lightning more often than females."

The data also showed that leisure-related activities are the greatest source of lightning fatalities.

Contrary to popular beliefs, golfers were actually NOT responsible for the greatest number of lightning deaths during the eight year period the data was analyzed.

"In particular, the combination of fishing and boating activities account for 17% of all lightning deaths," the report adds. "These activities are especially dangerous because fishermen and boaters are likely out in the open and more vulnerable to a direct lightning strike; the background noise of a motor or water may limit their ability to hear thunder; and they may need extra time to get to a safe place."

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Camping was the second greatest contributor to lightning deaths and sports-related activities contributed to 11% of total lightning deaths.

"Beach activities also contributed significantly to the lightning death toll. In some cases, the sounds of the surf may have masked the sound of thunder which could have provided an earlier awareness that thunderstorms were developing or approaching," says the report. "In other cases, due to a lack of situational awareness, victims had walked or run along the beach and may have been far from safety when the storm approached."

This paper examined and analyzed lightning fatalities in the U.S. from 2006 through 2013.

For more from this study, check out the report here.

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