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bangladesh is at risk of lightning
Bangladesh Environmental Features Environmental Science Monjur Morshed

Bangladesh is at risk of lightning. How we can survive?

Bangladesh is at risk of lightning. How we can survive?

monjur morshed

We are all commonly familiar with lightning. Especially during the rainy season, we regularly hear loud noises from lightning. Sometimes we hear that lightning has struck somewhere, and property or life has been lost.

Today we will discuss with you about lightning. We will try to know what lightning is, how it begins, and the risk of lightning in Bangladesh, and finally, we will discuss how to avoid lightning.

What is lightning?

Lightning is a naturally occurring electrical occurrence that results from building static charge in the atmosphere. This charge is typically produced by the collision of ice particles in thunderstorms and can result in a sudden release of energy in the form of a lightning bolt.

Figure1: General Mechanism of Lightning
Figure1: General Mechanism of Lightning

Types of Lightning

There are two main types of lightning:

  1. Cloud-to-ground: Cloud-to-ground lightning occurs when the built-up static charge in a cloud discharges to the ground. This type of lighting can be extremely dangerous, as it is often responsible for fires and injuries.
  2. Cloud-to-air: Cloud-to-air lightning, on the other hand, occurs when the static charge in a cloud discharges to another cloud or object in the sky. While this type of lighting is not as dangerous as cloud-to-ground lightning, it can still consider a threat to aircraft and other objects in its path.
Figure: Curtesy MEtMATTERs
Figure: Curtesy MEtMATTERs

Impact of Lightning

Lightning is one of the most potent forces in nature and can have shocking effects on both people and property. Each year, lightning kills hundreds of people and injures thousands more. It is also responsible for damage to homes and businesses.

High-frequency Lightning area

  1. While lightning can occur anywhere in the world, certain areas are more prone to it than others. For example, Central and South America see more lightning activity than any other region on Earth. It is due to a combination of factors, including the high altitude of the Andes Mountains, the warm temperatures, and the high
Figure 2: lightning flash density over Bangladesh
Figure 2: lightning flash density over Bangladesh

(Source: Islam, M.S., Schmidlin, T.W. Lightning hazard safety measures and awareness in Bangladesh. Nat Hazards 101, 103–124 (2020)).

Lightning in Bangladesh

assessing lightning risk in south asia by nasa
Assessing Lightning Risk in South Asia by NASA (2001 – 2017)

In Bangladesh, only a few studies have been conducted on lightning. These reveal that the number of lightning incidents in the country is relatively high. According to Voice of America Report,

“Bangladesh has seen a near-record number of deaths this year from a phenomenon that appears to be worsening with climate change: lightning strikes.”

Another study shows that in Bangladesh, the incidence of lightning fatalities is 0.9 per 1,000,000 per year, which is higher than in high-income countries. A total of 1,476 people died from lightning in Bangladesh during 2010-2016.

Before 1981, the country witnessed lightning strikes on average nine days each May. Since then, the country has seen strikes an average of 12 days each May.

According to various sources, the country’s highest number of deaths due to lightning are in the Kishoreganj, Sunamganj, and Brahmanbaria districts of Haor.

And these incidents happen more in April and May. At this time, the farmer stays in the field to harvest the crop. This time is Kalbaishakhi. The death toll from lightning has been much higher in the last decade than from storms, floods, or other disasters.

Until October 2021, at least 329 people have been killed in Bangladesh by lightning strikes. All the deaths occurred in open places; according to the number of deaths due to lightning, 98.52 percent were the ordinary people or the peasants, workers, and fishers of the village. Of these, the death rate of those involved in agriculture is 74 percent.

A.Q.M. Mahbub, an earth and environmental science professor at the University of Dhaka, said, “The increased numbers of lightning strikes may be due to global warming, but it needs further research to be confirmed.”

An initiative from Bangladesh Government

Considering the massive death toll due to lightning, in 2016, the Government of Bangladesh declared lighting a natural disaster. Aimed to reduce the deaths and damage, the Bangladesh government has taken several initiatives, including the plantation of one million palm trees across the country and developing public awareness of thunderstorms through printed and electronic media and other platforms.

And encouraging people to plant palms and other tall trees, install lightning rods in their houses, etc. Furthermore, the warning systems have also been strengthened to make people aware of lightning preparedness.

In addition to public awareness and emergency health services for the victims, the Directorate General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare collects information on deaths and injuries from thunderstorms and lightning across the country regularly.

 A.Q.M. Mahbub, an earth and environmental science professor at the University of Dhaka, said, “The increased numbers of lightning strikes may be due to global warming, but it needs further research to be Confirmed.”

Figure 3: Lightning statistics in 2014 for 33 stations in Bangladesh
Figure 3: Lightning statistics in 2014 for 33 stations in Bangladesh

(Source: J. Environ. Sci. & Natural Resources, 10(2):11–18, 2017)

 According to statistics, at different times, lightning can occur over working farmers and fishers working in crops fields, rivers, and/or reservoirs, causing the deadly situation. When working in the crop fields or fishing, people are at risk when participating in an electrical storm.

How can we survive this natural disaster?

  • The development of regional mechanisms for the detection, forecasting, and early warning of scientific causes of lightning and increase in the number of deaths.
  • Modernization of lightning detection and forecasting system.
  • Find out effective methods to reduce the damage caused by lightning.
  • Construction of shelters in lightning-prone areas of the country.
  • To make it mandatory in the building code to install lightning rods in every building.
  • Incorporate lightning awareness in education activities.
  • Provide training to health workers and volunteers on first aid for those injured in lightning strikes.
  • Initiate joint research initiatives and activities with neighboring countries on the reasons for the increasing trend of lightning, its risks, and its role in climate change.
  • Planting of fast-growing tall varieties.
  • Ordinary people make education from lightning
  • Do not keep open space or field during lightning.
  • To be located at this time. If you need to go out in an emergency, you must wear shoes overnight.
  • If you are in an open place during a thunderstorm, quickly stand up on your toes and keep your fingers in your ears.
  • Acquire the peace of the building or concrete tent as soon as possible with a hint of lightning. Not going to the roof of the building or your place.
  • Refrain from playing in the open field.
  • Switch off all types of electrical appliances during lightning strikes and unplug them before lightning strikes.
  • When lightning strikes while many people are together in the open, they become separated from each other.
  • Stay away from electric poles, tall plants, wires, metal poles, mobile towers, etc.
  • Stay away from rivers, ponds, ponds, or reservoirs if deep clouds appear.
  • Do not go fishing in an open boat during a thunderstorm; stop fishing in the sea or river and stay under the boat tent.
  • Do not touch the metal part of the vehicle if it is inside the vehicle during lightning.

From the above article, we have learned about the causes of lightning, its harmful effects, and ways to avoid lightning. We will discuss about lightning in more detail in our next article.

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