National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

That’s the National Weather Service’s way saying that we must take thunderstorms and the lightning that accompanies them seriously. During this Lightning Safety Awareness Week, which runs June 18-24, take time to learn what to do — and not to do — when thunderstorms threaten.

Lightning ranks among the top storm-related killers in the United States. About two-thirds of lightning-related deaths are associated with outdoor recreational activities. Although lightning injuries and fatalities can occur during any time of the year, deaths caused by lightning are highest during the summer. Generally, July is the month when lightning is most active.

Seek shelter if you’re outside

It is critical to know what to do when thunderstorms head your way. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone outdoor plans or make sure adequate safe shelter is readily available.

When you hear thunder, go inside. You are not safe anywhere outside. Do not seek shelter under trees. Instead, run to a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning or observe dark, threatening clouds developing overhead. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

If you can’t make it inside or in a vehicle, take these precautions:

  • Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Tents do not protect you from lightning.
  • Stay away from water, wet items and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Electricity easily passes through water and metal.

Protect yourself while inside

If you are indoors, be aware that although your home is a safe shelter during a lightning storm, you might still be at risk. About one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors.  When inside:

  • Avoid contact with corded phones, computers, laptops, game systems, washers, dryers or anything connected to an electrical outlet. Lightning can travel through electrical systems.
  • Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls. Lightning also can travel through metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
  • Unplug electrical equipment.

For more information on thunderstorms and lightning safety, visit the following links:

www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/safety-overview.shtml

cdc.gov/disasters/lightning/index.html

 lightning.org/lsa-week/

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