Lightning Safety Week – June 21 – 27, 2009


Not only is this Sunday Father’s Day it’s also the kick off of Lightning Safety Week. Lightning, the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena, strikes year round but summer is its peak season.

Over the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 58 people per year. This is higher than the 57 deaths per year caused by tornadoes and average 48 deaths to hurricanes. However, since lightning generally claims one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction it is underrated as a major risk. Documented lightning injuries average about 300 per year in the U.S. but obviously without all the lightning injuries being documented the true number will never be known.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That’s about the distance you can hear thunder. So, if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek shelter immediately. The National Weather Service has a great tag line: “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

Once indoors stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. Stay away from pools (indoor or outdoor), tubs, showers and other plumbing. Wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before going outside again.

If someone should be the victim of a lightning strike know that they do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those whose lives are taken. Some lives may be saved if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR if the victim is unresponsive or not breathing. If an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is available, use it.

Lightning is dangerous but with common sense and proper first aid training you can greatly increase the safety of yourself and others.