June 23-29th, 2013 is National Lightning Safety Week.
Throughout this week the National Weather Service in Jackson will emphasize lightning safety.
Today we focus on the lightning safety indoors.
The best protection from lightning is in a house or other substantial building. Lightning striking these structures follows metal conductors such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines from the top of the structure to the ground, normally leaving inhabitants unscathed.
House Struck by Lightning
Houses and large buildings provide the best protection. Small metal buildings may offer a minimal amount of protection. Stay in the center of the structure and crouch down. However, these should only be used as a last resort. While small wooden or vinyl buildings may seem to be a better option than being out in the open, they offer little or no protection and should not be used as a lightning shelter.
There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings: as a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground. Regardless of the method of entrance, once in a structure, the lightning surge can travel through the electrical outlets, phone, plumbing, radio and television reception systems. It can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring as well as windows and doors. It is very important to avoid contact with these conductors when lightning is occurring. However, phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires. This is particularly likely in rural areas where other conductors are limited. This applies to corded telephones. Cellular and cordless phones are acceptable to use.
Within the home, avoid contact with washers and dryers since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems, but also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent. Concrete floors should also be avoided as they usually contain some form of reinforcement which can easily become electrified by a nearby lightning strike. Avoid bathing during lightning storms as the household plumbing can carry deadly current.
Don't forget about your pets. Dog houses are not acceptable shelters for your pets. Dogs chained to metal posts or trees are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.
Tomorrow we will discuss Medical Issues from Lightning Strikes.
For additional information... please contact the National Weather Service office in Jackson Mississippi or visit the lightning safety awareness week web site at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/.