English, Fake News
 

No, the handphone signals do not attract lightning

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A video of a man getting struck by a lightning is being shared on social media with a claim that handphone signals attract lightning. Let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.

The archived version of the post can be found here.

Claim: Handphone signals attract lightning.

Fact: The ‘National Weather Service (US)’ categorised ‘cell phones attract lightning’ as a myth. Also, on the ‘CDC’ website, it can be read – “Avoid using corded phones. Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm.” Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.

When the screenshots of the video were run through Google Reverse Image Search, many news reports regarding the incident in the video were found in the search results. The incident reportedly occurred in December 2021 in Indonesia. In the ‘Mirror’ article, it can be read – “An umbrella being held by a security guard suddenly burst into a fireball and disintegrated after being struck by lightning. The man miraculously survived the incident, which was caught on camera, as he was struck and then collapsed……The victim was patrolling the depot with a radio transmitter and umbrella when the bolt of lightning zapped him in the open courtyard.” Talking to ‘Kompas.com’ on the incident, Professor Reynaldo Zoro (an expert in the field of lightning) said – “cellphones or handy talkies do not cause a person to be struck by lightning. Because they have different frequencies.” (translated version)

On the website of ‘National Weather Service’ (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – US), it can be seen that ‘cell phones attract lightning’ is categorised as a myth. It says – “Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year……While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.” The same can be read on the ‘AccuWeather’ website. However, they advise people to be away from corded phones.

Also, on the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’ website, it can be read – “Avoid using corded phones. Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm.”

To sum it up, the handphone signals do not attract lightning.

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