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:
Understand the threat and minimize the risk!
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
SEPARATE FROM OTHER BODIES
COVER YOUR EARS
CROUCH DOWN TO TAKE UP LESS AREA
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: 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
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