Lightning Safety Awareness Week

By WTAJ News

Published 06/25 2014 03:58PM

Updated 06/25 2014 04:11PM

Summer is the season to be outside. Warm weather compels us to run, swim, hike and ride, and the long hours of sunlight provide ample time to enjoy this most active of seasons. Summer is also prime time for thunderstorms, which produce lightning, among other potentially dangerous hazards.  June 22-28, 2014 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week! Lightning occurs in ALL thunderstorms and it is estimated that over 100,000 thunderstorms occur each year in the United States. (View state-by-state data on average annual number of thunderstorm days.)

We've all heard a variation of the saying “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”  The saying originates because thunder is actually a byproduct of a lightning strike.  When a bolt of lightning travels from a cloud to the ground the air around the bolt becomes super heated and expands rapidly.  The air then rapidly compresses and explodes outward creating a loud, booming shock wave known as thunder.  If you hear thunder you are close enough to a thunderstorm to be stuck by lightning!

Tips For You:  In 2013, lightning accounted for 23 deaths in the U.S., down from 28 in 2012 and the 30-year average of 53. That number can be reduced even more by knowing how to avoid lightning and what to do if you are stuck outside during a thunderstorm. These tips will help keep you safe:
  • If you hear thunder go indoors right away.  This is one of the safest places to be during a thunderstorm. 
  • DO NOT stand under tall objects like trees.  Lightning usually strikes taller objects and if you’re standing near one the electricity could jump to you as well. 
  • Avoid water.  If you are swimming at the time when you hear thunder get out immediately and seek shelter.
  • Avoid being out in any open areas such as fields, parking lots or golf courses.  In theses areas you are the tallest thing around and the easiest target for a lightning strike.
If you’re caught outside during a thunderstorm and cannot reach a safe indoor location:
  • Find a ditch to lie in if possible.
  • If you cannot find a ditch try to make yourself as small as possible.
  • Crouch down with your head between your knees.
  • Find a car and get in it. 

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