Lightning is one of the most overlooked and underestimated deadly weather related hazards here in the US. Responsible for 27 US deaths in 2015 alone, lightning becomes a significant threat when safety procedures are not appropriately utilized. After all, Central Florida is the lightning capital of the United States with Kentucky coming in at #12 for most lightning strike fatalities in the US.

Weather fatalities as of 2015 by phenomena:

SAFETY TIPS:

Understand the threat and minimize the risk!

PLAN AHEAD!

BEFORE THE STORM: If the sky looks threatening or you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately.

DURING THE STORM: Once inside, avoid contact with corded phones, electrical equipment, and plumbing. Go to the lowest level of the building.

AFTER THE STORM: Wait at least thirty minutes after the last lightning strike before going outside.

SAFETY DOS AND DON'TS

DO:

BE AWARE

GO INDOORS

SEPARATE FROM OTHER BODIES

COVER YOUR EARS

CROUCH DOWN TO TAKE UP LESS AREA

DON'T:

LAY DOWN ON GROUND

BE IN OPEN VEHICLES

BE NEAR TALL BUILDINGS

BATHE, SHOWER, OR WASH DISHES

USE ELECTRONICS I.E. LAPTOPS, DESKTOP COMPUTERS, STOVES.

COMMON LIGHTNING MYTHS:

LIGHTNING QUICK FACTS:

  • Lightning strikes the US about 25 million times a year.
  • Lightning is caused by an electrical charge in the atmosphere that is unbalanced.
  • A lightning bolt is about 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5 times hotter than the surface of the sun!)
  • The average striking length of a lightning is about 2 to 3 miles and carries electricity of nearly 100 million volts!

Q&A

Q: How do you know how far away a strike is after thunder is heard?

A: Sound travels 1 mile in 5 seconds. To estimate strike distance, count seconds from strike to thunder and divide by 5.

Q: Is it safe to take shelter under a tree during a storm?

A: No. Staying under a tree is the second leading cause for lightning deaths.

Q: What are the odds of a person getting struck by lightning?

A: According to the National Weather Service Storm Data. odds of getting struck by lightning are about 1 in 190,000 in any given year. However, your risk may be higher if you work outside for a living or live in states such as Texas or Florida.

photo courtesy of Jacob Zimmer

MORE INFORMATION AT:

http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/lightning/index.asp

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/resources/lightning3_050714.pdf

http://factslegend.org/40-interesting-lightning-facts/