SR/SSD 98-28


Technical Attachment

Shocking News About Lightning and Pools

Summer is the most dangerous season for lightning deaths and injuries. Nearly one hundred people die from lightning strikes each year, and hundreds are injured. If you see lightning or hear thunder, you are a potential target for a lightning strike. Lightning fatalities or injuries occur most often when you are:

Near or in water - indoor and outdoor pools, including showers or plumbing.

Near or under trees and tall objects - diving boards, towers, lifeguard stands, poles, etc.

Near vehicles or buildings, instead of in them - under awnings or unenclosed buildings.

At recreational facilities and open areas - pools, ball fields, golf courses, and parks.

Near the storm, especially before the storm arrives and after the storm has passed.

You can determine the distance between you and the lightning strike by using the flash-to-bang rule: For each five seconds you count between seeing the lightning flash and hearing the thunder, there is one mile between you and that lightning strike. If your evacuation building is nearby and nothing obstructs the view at the pool, a 30-second flash-to-bang time should be your bare minimum for evacuating the pool. Pools that have obstructed views should evacuate anytime thunder is heard. Thunder usually becomes audible within ten miles of the thunderstorm. Pools in high noise areas should use NOAA weather radio, the Weather Channel, lightning sensors, or other means of monitoring the weather and should evacuate the pool when storms are within ten miles (flash-to-bang of 50 seconds). A developing storm may provide no advance warning before the first lightning strike. Reduce the risk of electrocution near pools by following the HANDY Rule:


Hand - The five fingers of the hand stand for the five seconds per mile, flash-to-bang rule. There should be a well grounded, enclosed and sturdy building handy for everyone. If not, evacuate the pool sooner. Include the extra time needed to get people out of the pool and to the building in your evacuation plan. Wait thirty minutes from the last time thunder is heard before reopening the pool.

Awareness - Know the weather forecast, stay informed and have a safety plan ready to enact. If thunderstorms are forecast, be alert for storm development and be prepared to carry out your plan.

Notify - Tell people that the pool is closed. Do not allow them to use showers, sinks or stand outside, especially under awnings and trees. The locker room may not be safe. In fact, a wet locker room floor is an ideal conductor of electrical energy.

Direct patrons to safe structures or hard topped vehicles. Convertibles are not safe from lightning.

Your own safety - The pool area is too dangerous for everyone. Be in a safe building or vehicle and remain there until thunder is no longer heard. The pool filter room is not safe due to the water and plumbing. Blue sky, sunshine or lack of rain is not a reason to return to the pool area.