When summer storms gather, is lightning safety one of your main concerns? If it’s not, it should be. Lightning is among the leading causes of weather-related fatalities, but many underestimate the severity of its power.
“Summer is great for spending time outdoors, but it is also peak season for lightning,” said Tim McLane, senior athletic trainer in Augusta University’s Sports Medicine Center. “Take every precaution to ensure your activities are safe and remember when thunder roars, go indoors.”
To help your family stay safe, McLane offers the following tips on what to do when lightning strikes.
- Before attending an outdoor event, check the weather 24 hours in advance.
- Identify a safe location, should you get caught in a storm. Safe places include buildings and fully enclosed vehicles with the windows completely shut. Unsafe places are golf carts, bleachers, high ground, open spaces, pools or other bodies of water, picnic shelters, and under or near trees.
- If you can see or hear lightning, don’t wait. Seek shelter immediately and stay inside until no thunder or lightning have been observed for at least 30 minutes. Don’t wait until it rains as lightning can strike before rain appears.
- If you are unable to seek shelter, find the lowest point possible and crouch down with feet together. Stay at least seven feet away from any tall structures such as trees or poles.
- If you are indoors, stay away from doors and windows, avoid using sinks and other water sources, and don’t make telephone calls. Remove headsets, and turn off, unplug and stay away from appliances. Lightning can strike exterior phone and electrical lines, causing shocks to inside equipment.
- If someone has been struck by lightning, call 911 immediately, and attempt CPR. It is safe to touch them, because a lightning strike does not leave a residual charge.
Lightning strikes occur most commonly in June, July and August. By educating yourself and your loved ones about appropriate action during a lightning storm, you can help protect yourselves from risk of injury, even death.