When it comes to deadly weather, tornadoes and hurricanes get all the publicity, but lightning is actually the worst threat, killing more people on average every year than tornadoes and hurricanes combined. About one hundred people die from lightning every year in the United States, and hundreds more suffer lifelong injury or disability. In fact, the National Weather Service calculates a one-in-three hundred chance that you or a family member will be struck by lightning sometime during your lifetime. You can beat the odds fairly easily, though. The simplest way is to get inside a home or other sturdy building during a thunderstorm. Do it immediately; don't wait for the rain to fall. Most lightning injuries occur before the rain starts and after it stops. Remember, if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
When you hear thunder, you are in danger of being struck by lightning. Go inside immediately. After the storm is over, wait thirty minutes after the last flash of lightning or boom of thunder before going back outside. But be careful! Even before you hear thunder, lightning can strike, so always know the weather forecast, and watch the sky for possible developing thunderstorms. Sports coaches, golfers, scout leaders and campers should have a good lightning safety plan and use it when thunderstorms threaten. For more lightning safety tips and a song, go here
Where to Go
If you are caught outside during a thunderstorm with no buildings nearby, you should avoid open fields, beaches, lakes and swimming pools as if you life depends on it, because it does. Lightning often strikes the tallest object around, and you don't want that object to be you. That's also why isolated trees, picnic shelters and covered bus stops offer no protection, and may actually increase your chances of being struck. Stay away from metal fences, flag poles and lamp posts. If no other shelter is nearby, get into a car with metal sides and roof, and roll the windows up. For more lightning safety information, teacher tools and brochures, go here to the National Weather Service's Lightning Safety pages. Go to Next Page