In the United States, there are an estimated
25 million lightning flashes each year. During the past
30 years, lightning killed an
average of 66 people per year. This is more than the
average of 65 deaths per year caused by tornadoes. Yet because
lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time
and does not cause mass destruction of property,
it is underrated as a risk. While documented
lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per
year, undocumented injuries likely much higher.
Watch for Developing Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms
are most likely to develop on spring or summer days but can
occur year round. As the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer
air start to rise and cumulus clouds form. Continued heating
can cause these clouds to grow vertically into towering cumulus
clouds, often the first sign of a developing thunderstorm.
An Approaching Thunderstorm:
When to Seek Safe Shelter: Lightning can strike
as far as 10 miles from area where it is raining. That's
about the distance you can hear thunder. If you
can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek
safe shelter immediately.
Outdoor Activities: Minimize
the Risk of Being Struck: Most lightning deaths
and injuries occur in the summer. Where organized
outdoor sports activities take place,
coaches, camp counselors and
other adults must stop activities at the first roar of thunder
to ensure everyone time to get a large building or enclosed
vehicle. Leaders of outdoors events should have a written plan
that all staff are aware of and enforce.
Indoor Activities: Things
to Avoid: Inside building,
stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical
equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity
or plumbing. Buy ground fault protectors for key equipment.
When inside, wait 30 minutes after the last strike, before
going out again.
Helping a Lightning Strike
Victim: If a person is struck by lightning, call
911 and get medical
care immediately. Cardiac arrest
and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in
cases where people are struck by lightning. However, with
proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims
survive a lightning strike.
You are in no danger helping a lightning victim. The charge
will not affect you.
is dangerous. With common sense, you can greatly increase
your safety and the safety of those you are with. At the
first clap of thunder, go a large building or fully enclosed
vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder
to back outside.
Lightning Roars, Go Indoors!