INFORMATION AND SAFETY RULES
One aspect of thunderstorms
is lightning. Each year, about 400 people in the U.S. are struck by lightning
while working outside, at sports events, at the lake, mountain climbing or biking,
mowing the lawn or during other outdoor activities. Nearly 80 lightning strike
victims are killed and several hundred are left to cope with permanent disabilities.
Many of these tragedies can be avoided. Finishing the game, getting a tan, or
completing a work shift are not worth the risk of death or a crippling injury.
Lightning strike near
Pullman, WA 6/29/03.
Lightning often strikes
as far as 10 miles aways from any rainfall, and has been documented to strike
up to 70 miles away from the thunderstorm which generated the lighting. Many
lightning victims are struck ahead of the storm or shortly after the storm has
Summer is the U.S. lightning
season, though it can strike year round. In summer, more people are outside,
on the beach, golf courses, mountains or ball fields. Outdoor jobs such as construction
and agriculture, and outdoors chores such as lawn mowing or house painting are
at their peak, putting those involved in danger.
Outdoors is the most dangerous
place to be during a thunderstorm. Watch for darkening cloud bases and head
to safety before that first lightning flash. IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER...THE STORM
IS CLOSE ENOUGH THAT IT COULD STRIKE YOUR LOCATION AT ANY MOMENT. If lightning
is forecast, plan an alternate activity or know where you can take cover quickly.
WHEN OUTSIDE, go quickly
inside a completely enclosed sturdy building when lightning approaches. If no
enclosed building is nearby, get inside a hard topped metal-framed vehicle.
Make sure all windows are closed, since lightning can pass through any open
air space. Avoid sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, and bleachers. Also
avoid carports, open garages, and covered patios. A cave is a good option, but
move as far as possible from its entrance.
WHEN IN THE FOREST, don't
be the tallest object around. In the mountains, do not remain above the treeline
if lightning threatens. Never seek shelter under an isolated tree or a small
grouping of trees. If in a heavily forecasted area, seek shelter in a low spot
away from the taller trees. If there is no shelter, sqat low to the ground,
clasp your hands around your knees and put your chin to your chest, making yourself
the smallest target possible and minimizing contact with the ground.
WHEN ON A PATH OR COURSE,
Get off bicycles. Avoid metal. Drop metal framed backpacks. Stay away from fences
and metal sheds. Put down golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools.
WHEN ON THE WATER, get out.
Water is great conductor of electricity. Stay away from the beach and out of
small boats. If in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from the
metal hardware. Lightning can strike water and travel some distance beneath
and away from its point of contact.
Lightning injuries can lead
to permanent disabilities or death. If someone is struck by lightning, call
911 or your local ambulance service. Give first aid as quickly as possible.
If the victim has stopped breathing, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has
stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse
and is breathing, address any other injuries. People struck by lightning carry
no electrical charge that can shock other people. You can examine them without
For more information on
lightning, visit the National
Lightning Safety web page and the Severe
Weather Awareness web page