Lightning Safety Awareness Week
June 22 - 28, 2014

 

Graduation Ceremony So there you are outdoors. Whether it's a baseball game, putting laundry on a clothesline or attending a graduation ceremony...you could become vulnerable. How? While you are keeping track of the score, you may lose track of the weather.

 

Lightning tends to catch people off guard. It is quiet...but it is also deadly. In fact, lightning kills more people than tornadoes in an average year in the United States. Lightning. Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

 

In Arkansas, there were 116 deaths and 275 injuries due to lightning from 1959 to 1999. Statistics show that the deaths and injuries occurred mostly in the Summer months...when people are most likely to be outdoors. Check out the statistics below...

 

Arkansas Lightning Statistics...1959-1999
Month Deaths Injuries
January 0 2
February 0 3
March 8 4
April 0 29
May 13 34
June 35 67
July 30 48
August 23 72
September 6 13
October 0 1
November 0 0
December 1 2

 

More recently, there were no fatalities and six injuries due to lightning in 2013...

1.7 miles southeast of Monticello (Drew Co.), January 29 - A person in a house was shocked by lightning.

Rogers (Benton Co.), May 30 - Two people were injured by lightning in the parking lot of a car dealership.

West Memphis (Crittenden Co.), June 27 - Three teen-aged males were struck by lightning while taking shelter under a tree.

 

Opposing charges in the atmosphere cause lightning. Where does lightning come from? Lightning is a part of an atmospheric battery surrounding a thunderstorm. It is produced due to the  magnetic attraction between the base of a storm cloud (negative charge) and the ground (positive charge).

 

To go from cloud to ground, lightning must travel through air...a poor conductor of electricity. To make a connection, lightning will tend to go the shortest distance possible. Given this, lightning tends to strike tall isolated objects such as buildings, antennas and trees. Lightning will usually strike tall objects.

 

Away from the city and in open fields, the tallest objects may be you or your pets! Lightning struck a metallic fence, with the current traveling along the fence. Cows touching the fence were killed.
In the picture: Lightning struck a metallic fence, with the current traveling along the fence. Cows touching the fence were killed. The picture is courtesy of Ruth Lyon-Bateman.

 

Victims of Lightning Across the Country (2013)
Criteria Percent
May Through September 96%
Male 74%
In the Open (boating, beach, etc) 65%
Age 30 to 60 61%

 

 

So now that you know the facts, how do you protect yourself from lightning? Education is the key to understanding lightning and to avoid becoming a statistic. For years, the National Weather Service has provided information to the public about lightning in hopes that citizens could make life saving decisions when confronted by lightning. Now the National Weather Service is taking it one step further.

 

Leon the Lightning Lion says, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" In the poster to left: Leon the Lightning Lion says, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!"
The National Weather Service is so serious about lightning that it has a public safety awareness campaign called "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" The campaign is designed to increase lightning awareness and decrease lightning deaths and injuries.

 

Useful Information
 
The National Weather Service in Little Rock will disseminate some useful information during Lightning Safety Awareness Week, 2013. Check out the information below...
 
Introduction (Sunday, June 23rd at 6 am CDT)
Lightning Overview (Monday, June 24th at 6 am CDT)
The Science of Lightning (Tuesday, June 25th at 6 am CDT)
Lightning Safety Outdoors (Wednesday, June 26th at 6 am CDT)
Safe Shelters and Lightning Safety Indoors (Thursday, June 27th at 6 am CDT)
Medical Aspects of Lightning (Friday, June 28th at 6 am CDT)

 

Lightning Safety Banner For more on lightning...there is a very useful website available. To go to the website, click here.

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