HANOI - Viet Nam is one of the countries most vulnerable to lighting strikes, according to geological scientists, who added that people could learn to avoid lightning easily.
Due to its geographical characteristics, Viet Nam is hit by around 2 million lighting bolts per year, said Nguyen Xuan Anh, deputy head of the Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology's Institute of Earth Physics.
The Vietnamese thunderstorm season usually lasts from April to October, with an average of around 100 storms a year, according to the institute.
Anh said that, over the years, lightning had been responsible for casualties, the disconnection of telecommunication and electricity cables and damage to farm crops.
More than 20 people from across the country have died due to being struck by lightning in the first half of this year, according to institute statistics, most struck while out working their fields.
Lightning is most common in Hai Duong City's Co Dung District, Ha Tinh Province's Son Loc District, Nghe An Province's Yen Thanh District and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
"These areas experience strong atmospheric turbulence, resulting in more frequent lightning strikes," Anh said.
Mineral rich areas usually suffer less damage from lightning, which is absorbed into the soil more quickly. Ha Noi and HCM City, because of their high rise buildings, usually suffer less from lightning strikes.
Anh said that residents could set up lightning prevention systems, including an iron lightning conductor pole, a conduction wire and a ground connection, in their houses.
Lightning conductors poles should be 0.5-1.5m in length and be installed at the highest point of a house's roof. Ground connection sections, made from iron and zinc, should be buried at a depth of 2.5-3m below ground and 10-20m away from the house, he added.
When caught in a storm, people should shelter far away from large trees, electricity poles, kilns discharging smoke and ponds. People struck by lightning should be given immediate artificial respiration and heart massage within an hour. As many as 90 per cent of victims receiving first aid upon being struck, have been saved, Anh said.
In 2002 the institute created a lightning warning device, installed in Ha Noi's Gia Lam District which sets off an alarm 30 minutes before a thunderstorm hits, allowing people to seek timely shelter.
Due to its price tag of US$10,000 ($12,000), the institute to date has been unable to roll the device out to other areas.