Now that school has finally adjourned, summer has officially arrived. As temperatures rise, individuals will be spending additional time enjoying outdoor activities; however, at some point in time, they will likely 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 strikes the ground approximately 25 million times a year. It accompanies all thunderstorms and is extremely dangerous. Except for flooding, lightning kills more people than any other natural weather event. According to NOAA, each year, an average of 50 people in the U.S. 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 and 43 injured 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.
Lightning Safety Week is Sunday, June 22nd – Saturday, June 28th. To increase public 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.
Did you know?
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.
Caught Outside with No Safe Shelter
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 lightning safety, visit the National Weather Service at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/.