American Men Almost 6x More Likely Than Women to Be Killed by Lightning

July 30, 2013 - 10:59 AM
lightning, Roswell, New Mexico

Lightning in Roswell, N.M. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson)

(CNSNews.com) - Lightning strikes in the United States are almost six times more likely to kill a man than a woman, according to recently released data from the federal Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC did not explain why males are so much more likely than females to be killed by lightning.

The CDC looked at deaths by lightning in the 43 years from 1968 through 2010. It found that during that period the annual number of Americans killed by lightning was on a downward trend, with the annual number of men being killed declining 78.6 percent and the annual number of women being killed declining 70.6 percent.

However, over the 1968-2010 period, 85 percent of the Americans killed by lightning were male and 15 percent were female. That means American males were 5.66 times more likely to be killed by lightning than American females.

lightning, CDC

This chart produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the annual number of males and females killed by lightning in the U.S. from 1968-2010.

During the period, according to the CDC, a total of 3,389 Americans were killed by lightning, for an average of 79 a year. The greatest number was 131 in 1969; the lowest 29 in 2008 and 2010.

The ratio of 5.66 American males being killed by lightning for each female killed by lightning has been fairly steady over time—despite the overall decrease in the annual number of Americans killed by lightning.

Back in 1998, the CDC published an earlier report, looking at lightning deaths in the United States between 1980 and 1995. In that shorter time frame, 1,318 Americans were killed by lightning for an average of 82 per year. Of those 1,318 lightning victims, 1,125 (or 85 percent) were male.

That 1998 CDC report also said lightning was more likely to kill younger, as opposed to older, males. While 85 percent of all Americans killed by lightning from 1980-1995 were males, 68 percent were males aged 15 to 44.

The CDC also said that in the 1980-1995 period deaths by lightning happened more frequently in certain states. “The greatest number of deaths attributable to lightning occurred in Florida and Texas (145 and 91, respectively), but New Mexico, Arizona, Arkansas, and Mississippi had the highest rates (10.0, 9.0, 9.0, and 9.0, respectively),” said the CDC.

The 1998 CDC report noted a "general decrease in the number of lightning-related deaths since the 1950s.

"Possible explanations for the decrease," said that CDC report, "include fewer persons living and working in rural areas, improved warning systems, increased public education about safety regarding lightning, and improved medical care."