...Outdoor Lightning Safety...
This week is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Lightning Kills--play it safe!
Many lightning deaths and injuries occur during the summer months when outdoor activity is at its peak. During this time, people take advantage of the weather for a multitude of recreational activities. Being outside when thunderstorms are nearby involves risk, and certain locations are worse than others. To be safe, those who are boating, swimming, fishing, jogging, bicycling, hiking, walking, camping, or working outdoors all need to take the appropriate action in a timely manner when thunderstorms approach. In general, the threat begins well before most people think it does and ends well after most people think it ends. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding accounts for many lightning casualties.
Using basic safety rules can greatly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning. First, plan ahead. If thunderstorms are predicted, postpone or cancel outdoor activities so you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Second, monitor weather conditions. Watch the sky for any signs of developing or approaching storms and leave time to get to a safe place.
Third, if the sky looks threatening or you hear thunder, immediately seek shelter inside a substantial structure. Remain there for at least 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning is seen or the last rumble of thunder is heard. Some lightning victims have actually made the mistake of returning outside before the threat is over. Fourth, if you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you should try to quickly minimize your risk of being struck.
Stay away from tall objects such as trees and poles. Stay away from things that conduct electricity such as metal bleachers or metal fences. If involved in organized outdoor activities, make sure the officials in charge have and follow a specific lightning safety plan. Coaches, umpires, or school and camp counselors need to know to stop activities early so there is enough time to get participants and spectators to a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant. If you cannot get to a substantial building, a hard-topped metal vehicle is a good shelter. Be sure to roll up windows, and make sure the occupants avoid contact with any metal inside the vehicle.
Finally, do not forget the safety of your outside pets. Dog houses are not safe, and dogs that are on a metal chain or wire runner are particularly vulnerable to a nearby lightning strike. If you want more information on lightning safety, visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.