Lightning Safety -  

 

Lightning - The Underrated Killer

In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 58 people per year. This is higher than 57 deaths per year caused by tornadoes and average 48 deaths to hurricanes. Yet because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is underrated as a risk. While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year, undocumented injuries are likely much higher.


  • Watch for Developing Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on spring or summer days but can occur year round. As the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer air start to rise and cumulus clouds form. Continued heating can cause these clouds to grow vertically into towering cumulus clouds, often the first sign of a developing thunderstorm.
  • When to Seek Safe Shelter: Lightning can strike as far as 15 miles from the area where it is raining. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately.
  • Outdoor Activities: Minimize the risk of being struck. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur in the summer. Where organized outdoor sports activities take place, coaches, camp counselors and other adults must stop activities at the first roar of thunder to ensure everyone has time to get to a large building or enclosed vehicle. Leaders of outdoors events should have a written plan that all staff are aware of and enforce.
  • Indoor Activities: Inside buildings, stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. Stay away from pools (indoor or outdoor), tubs, showers and other plumbing. Buy surge suppressors for key equipment. Install ground fault protectors on circuits near water or outdoors. When inside, wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder, before going outside again.
  • Helping a Lightning Strike Victim: Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention.  Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die.  Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately.  Call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing.  Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available. 
  • Summary: Lightning is dangerous. With common sense, you can greatly increase your safety and the safety of those you are with. At the first clap of thunder, go to a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before you to go back outside.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!