Summer has officially arrived and as more individuals begin enjoying and participating in outdoor activities, there is the likelihood they will encounter stormy weather. According to the National Weather Service (www.nws.noaa.gov), summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena – lightning.
Lightning accompanies all thunderstorms and is extremely dangerous. Except for flooding, lightning kills more people than any other natural weather event. Each year, in the U.S., an average of 54 people are killed by lightning and hundreds more are seriously injured. June, July and August are the peak months for lightning and lightning fatalities. To date, there have been 7 lightning fatalities in the U.S. this year.
Rain is a natural part of a thunderstorm and all too often, individuals assume that once the rain subsides and the skies turn blue, the immediate threat of danger has passed. Yet, lighting often strikes outside the area where heavy rain occurs. According to the Lightning Safety Alliance, a single bolt of lightning can reach over five miles in length and carry a hundred million volts of electricity. For this reason, many lightning deaths often occur either ahead of the storm or after, when the storm “appears” to have passed. In addition, lightning causes billions of dollars in property damage each year which results in fire and destruction of property.
To increase the public’s awareness about the dangers of lightning, NOAA declared the last week in June as Lightning Safety Week in preparation for the upcoming months when lightning strikes are most active in the U.S.
What You Need to Know
NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!! If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up. Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety
Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets. Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches. Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips:
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk: Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks. Never lie flat on the ground. Never shelter under an isolated tree. Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter. Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water. Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.).
For more information on lightening safety, visit the National Weather Service at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/