Each year fast moving thunderstorms, with their heavy darkening banks of clouds, move across the landscape bringing with them strong, gusty winds, heavy downpours, clapping burst of thunder and brilliant bolts of lightning. Lightning strikes the ground more than 25 million times each year, causing fear in all those in its path and injuring more than 300 people, some permanently. And on average 54 people are killed each year. Lightning is a serious danger but there are actions that you can take to improve your safety and avoid becoming a victim of a lightning strike.
- Follow the 30/30 Rule; if you cannot count to 30 before you hear thunder you should seek shelter immediately and stay indoors for 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
- At the earliest indications of an approaching thunder storm, seek shelter inside a house, garage or public building. “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors”.
- Avoid small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.
- Avoid using wired telephone devises particularly in rural areas; the leading contact point of lightning injuries indoors is from the use of hard wired telephones, so hang them up in a storm.
- Stay away from windows, doors, appliances, plumbing and fixtures.
- Do not lean against concrete walls or lie on concrete floors, the metal reinforcing rods that are a common part of concrete structures will conduct electrical current in a strike.
- If a safe building isn’t nearby, get into an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle.
If you are unable to reach the relative safety of a shelter, seek the lowest-lying area such as; a ravine, drainage ditch or highway underpass. Select an area AWAY from trees, poles and other metal objects and crouch down low to the ground place your hands on your knees and your head between them. Do not lie flat on the ground or remain standing as this will make you a larger target.
If you observe someone being struck, call 911 and assist the victim. People struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and need immediate medical attention. If appropriate, begin CPR or the use of an AED immediately, if it’s needed and available. Check the victim for burns where they were struck and where the electricity left their body and keep them warm, calm and as dry as possible until emergency personnel arrive.
As the peak season for severe thunder and lightning storms approach, prepare to be better informed about the dangers of lightning to you and your family. Lightning Safety Awareness Week is scheduled for June 23-29, 2013 and provides the opportunity to learn more about the dangers of lightning through the use of handouts, indoor safety and outdoor risk reduction tips, medical facts, history, survivor stories, photos, teacher tools, kid’s page and more.
Prepare and Respond!