WFO Denver/Boulder

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT 
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GOODLAND KS
600 AM MDT THU JUNE 22 2006

...INDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY...
                    
THE WEEK OF JUNE 18 THROUGH JUNE 24 IS LIGHTNING AND WILDFIRE
PREPAREDNESS WEEK IN COLORADO.  THIS PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
WILL DISCUSS SAFE SHELTERS AND INDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY.

STATISTICS TELL US THAT WE ARE MUCH LESS LIKELY TO BECOME A LIGHTNING
VICTIM IF WE REMAIN INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL STRUCTURE SUCH AS A HOME OR
OFFICE BUILDING WHEN THUNDERSTORMS ARE NEARBY.  MOST PEOPLE STRUCK
BY LIGHTNING ARE IN OPEN AREAS SUCH AS BALL FIELDS…RECREATION
AREAS…GOLF COURSES OR OUT ON WATER…WHILE OTHERS ARE STRUCK WHEN
NEAR SOME TYPE OF MACHINERY.  HOWEVER…A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE
ARE KILLED OR INJURED BY LIGHTNING EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE INDOORS…SO IT
IS IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS INDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY THIS WEEK.

A HOUSE OR OTHER SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OFFERS THE BEST PROTECTION FROM
LIGHTNING BECAUSE IT OFTEN CONTAINS A MECHANISM FOR CONDUCTING THE
ELECTRICAL CURRENT FROM THE POINT OF CONTACT TO THE GROUND.  METAL
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS…ELECTRICAL WIRING…PLUMBING AND TELEPHONE
LINES ALL ACT AS CONDUCTORS TO HELP GROUND THE LIGHTNING STRIKE.  

SMALL STRUCTURES TYPICALLY DO LITTLE TO PROTECT OCCUPANTS FROM
LIGHTNING. MANY SMALL OPEN SHELTERS ON ATHLETIC FIELDS…GOLF
COURSES…PARKS…ROADSIDE PICNIC AREAS…SCHOOLYARDS AND ELSEWHERE ARE
DESIGNED TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM RAIN AND SUN…BUT NOT LIGHTNING. 
SMALL WOOD…VINYL OR METAL SHEDS SHOULD BE AVOIDED DURING
THUNDERSTORMS.  

LIGHTNING TYPICALLY ENTERS HOMES AND BUILDINGS VIA EITHER A DIRECT
STRIKE…THROUGH WIRES OR PIPES THAT EXTEND OUTSIDE THE
STRUCTURE…THROUGH THE GROUND...OR THROUGH AN OPEN DOOR OR WINDOW. 
REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF ENTRANCE…ONCE IN A STRUCTURE…LIGHTNING
CAN TRAVEL THROUGH THE ELECTRICAL…PHONE…PLUMBING AND
RADIO/TELEVISION RECEPTION SYSTEMS AND ALSO THROUGH METAL WIRES OR
BARS IN CONCRETE WALLS OR FLOORING.  KNOWING THIS INFORMATION CAN
HELP US MINIMIZE OUR RISK OF BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE INDOORS. 


PHONE USE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF INDOOR LIGHTNING INJURIES IN THE
UNITED STATES.  THIS APPLIES MAINLY TO CORDED PHONES ALTHOUGH IT IS
POSSIBLE TO BECOME INJURED WHILE IN CONTACT WITH THE BASE UNIT OF A
CORDLESS PHONE.  PEOPLE HAVE ALSO BEEN INJURED NEAR RADIOS AND
TELEVISIONS WHICH CONNECT TO SOME TYPE OF ANTENNA SYSTEM.  WINDOWS
AND DOORS CAN PROVIDE A PATH FOR A DIRECT STRIKE TO ENTER A HOME...SO IT
IS ADVISED TO STAY AWAY FROM THESE LOCATIONS DURING
THUNDERSTORMS...AND TO MAKE SURE THAT WINDOWS AND DOORS ARE
CLOSED.  BASEMENTS ARE GENERALLY A SAFE PLACE DURING
THUNDERSTORMS…BUT AVOID DIRECT CONTACT WITH CONCRETE WALLS
BECAUSE THEY OFTEN CONTAIN METAL REINFORCING BARS. IT IS ALSO BEST TO
AVOID WASHERS AND DRYERS BECAUSE THEY CONNECT WITH PLUMBING AND
ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS AND ALSO CONTAIN AN ELECTRICAL PATH TO THE OUTSIDE
THROUGH THE DRYER VENT.

LIGHTNING ALSO CAUSES SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO PERSONAL PROPERTY EACH
YEAR THROUGH EITHER A DIRECT STRIKE…OR BY ELECTRICAL SURGES THAT CAN
DAMAGE ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT.  UNPLUG ANY APPLIANCES OR ELECTRONIC
EQUIPMENT WELL BEFORE A THUNDERSTORM THREATENS.  DON'T FORGET TO
DISCONNECT TELEVISIONS OR RADIOS FROM OUTDOOR ANTENNAS!  IF YOU PLAN
TO BE AWAY FROM YOUR HOME WHEN THUNDERSTORMS ARE POSSIBLE…UNPLUG
UNNEEDED EQUIPMENT BEFORE YOU LEAVE.

HERE IS A SUMMARY OF LIGHTNING SAFETY TIPS FOR INSIDE THE HOME:
1. AVOID CONTACT WITH CORDED PHONES…ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AND
PLUMBING.  
2. AVOID CONTACT WITH WATER SUCH AS TAKING A SHOWER OR DOING
LAUNDRY. 
3. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS…DOORS AND PORCHES.  
4. DO NOT LIE ON CONCRETE FLOORS OR LEAN AGAINST CONCRETE WALLS.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT LIGHTNING AND LIGHTNING SAFETY CAN BE
FOUND AT THE FOLLOWING WEB SITES (USE LOWER CASE):

WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV
WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.COM
WWW.WEATHER.GOV/PUEBLO/LTG.PHP


DAVID FLOYD
WARNING COORDINATION METEOROLOGIST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GOODLAND KS

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