Reducing the risk of being struck by lightning is the focus of national Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 24-30. Lightning is most common in the summer months, but can be a hazard throughout the year. And although most lightning victims are struck outdoors, lightning poses a threat to those indoors as well.
If you are outdoors and see darkening skies or hear thunder, seek a sturdy, enclosed shelter immediately, such as a building or hardtop automobile. Don’t wait for rain to start falling to seek shelter from the storm — by then it could be too late. Lightning causalities frequently occur before the rain begins and soon after the rain ends. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before returning outside.
If you are indoors during a thunderstorm, try not to use corded appliances and electronics, such as computers and phones, as well as plumbing. Electrical wiring and pipes can provide a path for lightning to enter an enclosed structure. It is important to realize there are no guaranteed safe shelters—rather only ways to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Last year in the United States, lightning was reported to have killed at least 47 people and injured over 240. On average, lightning is responsible for 66 fatalities annually.
For information on lightning and lightning safety, visit NOAA’s Lightning Safety web site: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov