Lightning Safety Tips

Lightning is an extremely powerful and dangerous part of summer's weather. Generally speaking, if you can see lightning or hear thunder, you need to take precautions to avoid being hit by lightening.

Don’t take chances. The electrical charge and intense heat of lightning can electrocute on contact.

There is an accepted method for estimating the distance of an approaching thunderstorm. The "Flash-To-Bang" theory measures the time from when you see lightning to the time you hear the associated thunder. A measure of 5 seconds from Flash-To-Bang means lightning is one mile away. Ten seconds equals 2 miles; 15 seconds equals 3 miles, etc.  When the Flash-to-Bang count is 30 seconds, it’s time to seek safe shelter. However, you should be aware of its pitfall. It is sometimes hard to associate the proper clap of thunder to the corresponding flash.

Seek shelter inside an enclosed building or metal vehicle such as a car, van, or truck, with windows completely shut. Place your hands in your lap, and do not touch any metal on the vehicle. This includes window and door handles, radios, gearshifts, steering wheels, and any inside-to-outside metal objects. Never run under an isolated tree. Lightning strikes split trees and spread across the ground. Pools of water and even appliances can become electrically charged.

If you are caught on a golf course in a thunderstorm, remove metal-spiked shoes, put down golf clubs and avoid electric carts. If possible, seek shelter in an enclosed building. Stay away from metal fences, pipes, and rails. Avoid open water, wet sand, tractors, metal equipment, and golf carts.

If you cannot reach safe shelter, crouch down, put feet together, hands over your ears.  Don’t huddle with others; keep about 15 feet between you and another person.

If you are at a ball field when a thunderstorm approaches, at the first signs of lightning or thunder, leave the field, go to your vehicle and roll the windows up; then put your hands in your lap and avoid touching any metal parts.

  • Avoid rain and sun shelters and dugout areas.   

     

  • Do not seek shelter under a tree – they attract lightning.   

     

  • Avoid metal fences, gates and tall light or power poles.

If you are swimming in a pond or stream, designate one person to keep an eye on the weather. Keep a weather radio tuned to get local advance weather information. Plan where you will seek shelter if a storm comes up.

Remember that swimming pools are connected to a much larger surface area than the pool. Underground water pipes, gas lines, electric and telephone wires form a metallic network extending far beyond the pool itself. At the first clap of thunder, evacuate the pool. Do not stand around the pool on wet surfaces, but go inside where it is dry and safe. Stand away from windows and doors. Do not resume pool activities until 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard.

Lightning strikes the highest object on a body of water. On a lake, that highest object is a boat.  Every boat has the potential to attract a lighting strike. Small fishing or sailboats constructed of aluminum or fiberglass are particularly vulnerable to lighting strikes. Even a graphic fishing rod is an excellent electrical conductor.

Always get a weather report from the National Weather Service prior to heading for the lake and carry a weather radio with you. Stay alert for dark, anvil-shaped clouds and distant lighting and thunder. Take no chances; head for shore at the first suspicion of an approaching storm.

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