Lightning Safety

Lightning safety: how to avoid being hit by lightning during a thunderstorm.

Every year, people are hit by lightning. Hundreds of them die from lightning strikes while others are left seriously injured. Lightning strikes are the one of the biggest killers in storm related deaths. Most of these deaths occur because people didn't follow a few simple guidelines on how to prevent being struck by lightning. People need to take thunderstorm warnings seriously. During a severe thunderstorm there are more lightning strikes, thus increasing the risk for being hit. When a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued, take shelter immediately.

The most important thing to remember is that lightning can strike up to 10 miles away. Don't wait until it starts raining before taking action. Take shelter as soon as you hear thunder. If you can hear the thunder, then you are close enough to the storm to be hit by lightning. If you are outdoors make sure that you get into an enclosed shelter. A canopy or tent will not protect you. Get into a car, truck or a building. Stay away from doors and windows. Stay away from trees, water sources such as ponds lakes or swimming pools, power lines, metal structures or objects and open fields.

When indoors, avoid contact with water and never use the telephone or any appliances. Do not use headphones on stereos or TVs. If lightning strikes an electrical line to the house headphones could give a direct path for the lighting to your head. Keep away from windows and doors. Lighting can strike through plumbing so avoid doing dishes or taking a shower. Lighting is considered a threat until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap so never go out before this time or you could still be hit.

There is a lightning safety position that was created by lightning safety experts. If you are caught out in a storm and there is no shelter available then it's best to assume this position. Squat down as low to the ground as you can get without sitting, and make sure your heels touch. The purpose of having the heels touch is so if lighting strikes close to you and travels up your foot, the bolt will go back toward the ground through your other foot preventing the lightning from hitting your whole body. Make sure to cover your ears to prevent hearing damage from the thunderclaps while in the position. Make sure if you're with other people that you stay away from each other. Being close together can allow a lightning bolt to strike a whole group of people by conducting from one to another and through the ground. A safe distance is around 15 feet apart.

Don't wait until a storm is approaching to practice lightning safety. When planning outdoor activities it's best to discuss lightning safety with your family or group before heading out.

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