Lightning Strike Indoors: How Did Bolt Hit Woman In Louisiana Supermarket Checkout Line?

By Philip Ross on July 16, 2013 11:20 AM EDT

A lightning strike indoors at a supermarket in Louisiana caused burns on 33-year-old Lakeisha Brooks leg and foot. (Photo: Reuters)

A lightning strike indoors at a supermarket in Louisiana gave one woman a serious jolt at the checkout line. Lakeisha Brooks, 33, was cashing out when a lightning bolt came through the ceiling and hit her, causing burns to her leg and foot. How is a lightning strike indoors possible?  

According to WWLTV, the lightning strike indoors occurred Monday afternoon at Rouse's Supermarket in Houma, La., a city about 50 miles southwest of New Orleans. Brooks was paying for her groceries around 2 p.m. when a bolt of lightning struck her. The 33-year-old suffered burns to her left leg and right foot, and was taken in an ambulance to a Terrebonne General Medical Center. Her condition is improving.

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The sheriff's office said the lightning strike indoors in Louisiana came through the building's roof, traveled along the supermarket's sprinkler system and then struck a metal plate on the floor where Brooks stood. From the National Weather Service, or NWS, on how a lightning strike indoors can occur:

There are three main ways lightning enters structures: a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground. Once in a structure, lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

In 2008, the last year for which data is available, there were 60 people killed and 340 injured from lightning strikes. According to the NWS, one in every 6,250 people will be struck by lightning during their lives.

The NWS provids some tips for how you can avoid a lightning strike indoors. For one, stay off corded phones. Cell phones and cordless phones are a better option. Also, during a lightning storm, don't touch electrical equipment or cords, and don't wash your hands, take a shower or wash dishes. Avoid leaning on concrete floors or concrete walls.

Read more from iScience Times:

'Gigantic Jet' Lightning; Watch Massive 55-Mile High Storm Strike [VIDEO]

Stone Breasts Survive Lightning Strike: Venus De Milo Bust Last Thing Standing After Statue Explodes

Laser Lightning Rod: Guiding Bursts of Electricity with a Flash of Light

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