Lightning cannot be prevented but your chances of being struck can be reduced by following these safety rules:
- Avoid high ground, water, solitary trees, open spaces, and metallic objects. Search for low ground, but avoid ditches or trenches if they contain water, or if the ground is saturated. Seek clumps of shrubs or trees of uniform height.
- Immediately remove all metal objects. Get into a low, crouching stance on the balls of your feet with your hands covering your ears. Stand spread out from others, put 15-20 feet of space between each person.
- If a fully enclosed metal automobile is close, seek refuge there with all the windows rolled up and your hands in your lap.
- Avoid rain and sun shelters made of metal.
- If golfing, put down the clubs and get out of the golf cart. Move away from both.
- Get off and move away from bicycles and motorcycles.
How to handle lightning victims:
- Seek immediate medical attention!
- If necessary, immediately begin CPR
- Victims do not retain an electrical charge and are safe to handle.
- Check for burns along the extremities and around areas in contact with metal. Treat electrical burns the same as other types of burns.
- Common aftereffects include impaired eyesight and loss of hearing
Information about lightning:
What is Lightning?
Lightning is a form of electrical discharge between clouds or between a cloud and the ground.
The discharge may take place between two parts of the same cloud, between two clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. Lightning may appear as a jagged streak, a flash in the sky, or in the rarer form of a brilliant ball. Thunder is the sound waves produced by the explosive heating of the air in the lightning channel during the return.
- Most lightning strikes occur either at the beginning or end of a storm.
- The average lightning strike is six miles long.
- Lightning reaches 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, fours times as hot as the sun's surface.
- A cloud-to-ground lightning channel can be 2 to 10 miles long.
- Voltage in a cloud-to-ground strike is 100 million to 1 billion volts.
Did You Know?
- Lightning is underrated as a risk because it usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property.
- Lightning affects all regions. Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Colorado have the most lightning deaths and injuries.
- Lightning kills more people on an annual basis than tornadoes, hurricanes or winter storms. It is second only to flash floods in the annual number of deaths caused by storm-related hazards.
- Damage costs from lightning are estimated at $4-5 billion each year in the U.S.
- Around the earth there are 100 lightning strikes per second, or 8,640,00 times a day.
- What is commonly referred to as heat lightning, is actually lightning too far away to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
- There are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms in the U.S. each year.
- Americans are twice as likely to die from lightning than from a hurricane, tornado or flood.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates there are 200 deaths and 750 severe injuries from lightning each year in the U.S.
- 20% of all lightning victims die from the strike.
- 70% of survivors will suffer serious long-term effects.
- Annually, there are more than 10,000 forest fires caused by lightning.
Who’s at Risk?
- 85% of lightning victims are children and young men aged 10-35 engaged in outdoor recreation and work activities outside.
- 70% of all lightning injuries and fatalities occur in the afternoon.
- Most lightning deaths involve people working outdoors and outdoor recreationists
- Lightning in remote terrain creates dangerous conditions. Hikers, campers, backpackers, skiers, fishermen, and hunters are especially vulnerable when they’re participating in these activities.
- Many survivors of lightning strikes report that immediately before being struck their hair was standing on end and they had a metallic taste in their mouth.
- Long-term injuries from a lightning strike can include memory & attention loss, chronic numbness, muscle spasms & stiffness, depression, hearing loss, and sleep disturbance.