How does crouching with your heels touching and hands on your head protect you from lightning?

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How does crouching with your heels touching and hands on your head protect you from lightning?

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The crouching moves your center of mass closer to the earth and further from the clouds (making the lighting more likely to strike a different, taller object). Touching your heels together helps prevent ground current from passing through your thorax (by going up one foot and immediately down the other). Standing on one foot would also prevent this, but is probably hard to maintain while crouching for an extended period of time in a storm. I’m not sure about the hands on head. Someone else can take that one, but I’m 2 for 3.

Crouching makes you a less prominent “terrain feature”, hopefully making other objects (poles, trees, whatever extends upwards from the ground) more likely to end up being a discharge path. Even better is doing so in a terrain depression, as long as it’s not at risk to be flooded. Keeping your feet together minimizes the step voltage you’re subject to when lightning strikes in the vicinity. When lightning strikes, potentially dangerous voltages build up as a result; the closer to the impact, the higher they are. Having the heels touch is just the cherry on top, offering whatever potential difference happens between your feet a shorter path, rather than going through your legs and groin. Hands on the head i don’t know…I could imagine it’s to offer a path through your arms if a discharge hits you on top, taking current away from your head and upper torso.

Also not mentioned, your butt should be off your feet. You don’t want to provide a more direct path through your head to the ground.

I’ve been in this position for about an hour in the rain with lightning striking all around. It is not fun.

The crouching makes you a lower point of contact. Literally every other part is basically the same as when they made kids hide under their desks in preparation for incoming nuclear missiles during the Cold War.

In the United States, [the National Weather Service stopped recommending the lightning crouch in 2008](https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-crouch) precisely because it didn’t “provide a significant level of protection.”:

> Promoting the crouch gives people the false impression that crouching will provide safety. Even to promote the crouch as a last resort when a person’s hair stands on end gives people the impression that they will get a warning sign or that there is something that they can do in that situation which would prevent them from being struck.

It doesn’t. The idea was that there’s less surface area if you’re crouching on the balls of your feet and you’re lower to the ground. But I’ve been on mountains in lightning storms with my hair sticking up do to all the static electricity and with the air all around me crackling (not lightning but just static electricity like pops), and the last thing in my mind was to get into the lightning crouch. I sprinted out there as fast as I could go with all my gear on and got safely to lower ground where big trees were around to absorb the strikes instead of me.

I don’t think it ia really protecting you from lightning strikes. However it is effective in case of a volcanic eruption.

You don’t want to be tall, but you also don’t want to be laying flat on the ground because then you have a horizontal area