Lightning Risk Reduction Guidelines Outdoors: For Small Groups

If the group is made up of mainly adults, the lightning safety plan of action should be known by all members in the group. If the group is made up of 1 or 2 adults and the remainder is children, then the adults should agree ahead of time what their lightning safety plan of action is.

Plan Ahead! Make sure someone in the group gets a good weather forecast before going out.

Designate one of the members of the group to monitor NOAA weather radio (which can be purchased at most electronics stores, such as Radio Shack). This way you will always be able to get the latest forecast. Other sources of weather information include the internet, TV and local radio stations. Some cell phones also now offer access to weather information.

Once arriving at your location, know how long it will take you to reach your safe location is in case lightning threatens. Remember to account for the time it will take for you and your group to get to your safe location. If thunderclouds do begin to develop, make sure someone in the group continuously monitors the sky for lightning.

It is strongly recommended that you should seek safe shelter when you first hear thunder, observe lightning or see dark threatening clouds developing overhead.

Do not resume outdoor activities until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.

Example 1:

You are a boy/girl scout leader and are taking a small scout group on a community service outing in a local park in town. Your group will be working on improving trails in the park. The weather forecast for this day called for a partly cloudy morning with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. You arrive along with another scout leader in two large SUV vehicles. Once arriving at the park, you notice the only shelters are picnic shelters. As the afternoon progresses, the skies start to darken to the west, and your portable NOAA weather radio mentions thunderstorms are 12 miles to the west of your location, and are moving east at 30 mph. What would be your lightning plan of action?

In this case, you know the best safe location is the SUV vehicles. You see that the skies are starting to darken to the west and the portable NOAA weather radio that you have been monitoring mentions storms are moving towards your region. You round up the children and head for the SUV vehicles and wait the storm out. It is suggested you wait 30 minutes before the last rumble of thunder. You would NOT seek shelter under the picnic shelters because these are not a safe place to be during lightning storms.

It is important in this case that you leave enough time to gather up everyone and get the kids back to the vehicles before lightning moves into the region.

Example 2:

You are a manager of a little league team and have a game this evening at the local recreational park. The weather forecast for this day calls for a partly cloudy skies, with a chance of thunderstorms by early evening. You arrive in your vehicle while the kids arrive with their parents. Once arriving at the park, you notice the only buildings are the the restrooms (an enclosed building). Shortly after sunset, the skies start to cloud up and you begin to observe bright flashes in the sky to the west. The local radio station mentions storms are on the way.

In this case, you know the safest locations are either the vehicles the kids came in, or the rest rooms. You have a choice of either allowing the kids to go back to their parents/friends vehicles or bring everyone into the restrooms. It is important that you do NOT stay in the dugouts as these areas are not a safe place to be in during lightning activity. It is suggested you wait 30 minutes before the last rumble of thunder.

It is important in this case that you leave enough time to gather up everyone and get the kids into a safe location before lightning moves into the region.

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