National Lightning Safety Week
Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2018
The last week of June is National Lightning Safety Week, which is intended to make folks aware of the dangers of lightning.
According to the Lightning Safety Council’s website at http://www.lightningsafetycouncil.org, “National Lightning Safety Awareness week was started in 2001 to call attention to this underrated killer. Since then, U.S. lightning fatalities have dropped from about 50 per year to about 30. This reduction in fatalities is largely due to greater awareness of the lightning danger and people seeking safety when thunderstorms threaten.”
The National Weather Service has some safety tips for those caught outside when lightning is present.
The NWS website at www.weather.gov states there is actually very little you can do to improve your chances if you are outside during a lightning storm. The best thing to do is get indoors immediately. If that is not possible, there are some things which will slightly reduce the risk including:
• Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top;
• Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees;
• If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the lightning current traveling between group members;
• If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers no protection from lightning;
• Stay away from water, wet items and metal objects such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.
If you are inside, the chances of being harmed by lightning are much lower, but not entirely absent.
The NWS website states “a safe shelter is a building with electricity and/or plumbing or a metal-topped vehicle with windows closed. Picnic shelters, dugouts, small buildings without plumbing or electricity are not safe. Below are some key safety tips for you, your pets and your home.
There are three main ways lightning enters structures: a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground. Once in a structure, lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.”
Some tips for reducing risk from lightning while indoors which can be found on the NWS website at www.weather.gov include:
• Stay off corded phones. You can use cellular or cordless phones;
• Don’t touch electrical equipment such as computers, TVs or cords;
• Avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower or wash dishes;
• Stay away from windows and doors that might have small leaks around the sides to let in lightning. Stay off porches;
• Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls;
• Protect your pets: Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes;
• Protect your property: Lightning generates electric surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will not protect equipment from a lightning strike. Do not unplug equipment during a thunderstorm as there is a risk you could be struck.
For more information on lightning safety, go to www.weather.gov.