Let's Learn About: Lightning safety

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The official start of summer for the Northern Hemisphere is June 21. Summer is also the peak season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena, lightning. From June 22 to 28, the National Weather Service is sponsoring Lightning Safety Awareness Week. The campaign is designed to lower lightning death and injury rates as well as America's vulnerability to one of nature's deadliest hazards.

There are about 25 million lightning flashes in the United States every year. Each of those flashes is a potential killer. In 2013, 23 people were struck and killed by lighting while hundreds of others were injured.

Try to avoid being caught outside during a thunderstorm. “When thunder roars, go indoors!” Don’t wait to get to a safe place. Stop all activities and seek shelter immediately. If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, you are already in danger of becoming a lightning victim. When outdoors, get out of boats and away from water and get inside a completely enclosed structure. Car ports, covered patios, picnic shelters, golf shelters, beach pavilions, tents of any kind, baseball dugouts and sheds will not protect you from lightning. Avoid being the tallest object and stay away from metal fences, flagpoles and lampposts. Don’t stand under or near an isolated tree or a small group of trees.

If lightning is occurring and there is no sturdy structure nearby, get inside an automobile with metal sides and roof, and keep the windows up. The rubber tires do not protect you; it’s the roof. If you are trapped in an open field, get as low as you can in a valley or ravine and crouch down.

If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.

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