National Weather Service Taunton MA
1000 AM EDT Mon Jun 20 2005

National lightning safety preparedness week

Part one - lightning safety outdoors

Each year, about 400 children and adults in the United States are struck by lightning while working outside, at sports events, on the beach, Mountain climbing, mowing the lawn, or during other outdoor activities. About 80 people are killed and several hundred more are left to cope with permanent disabilities. Many of these tragedies can be avoided. Finishing the game, getting a tan, or completing a work shift are not Worth Death or crippling injury.

Lightning often strikes as much as 20 miles away from any rainfall. there has even been a documented case of lightning striking 34 miles away from the rain in the thunderstorm. At least 10 percent of lightning occurs without any visible clouds in the sky, just Blue sky. Many of lightning fatalities occur ahead of the storm because people try and wait until the last minute before seeking shelter. you are in danger if you can hear thunder. That means lightning is close enough that it could strike your location at any moment.

On average, 20 percent of lightning strike victims die, 80 percent survive but 70 percent of them suffer serious long-Term effects.

Here are some lightning safety rules.

1. Postpone activities promptly and do not wait for the rain. Go quickly inside a completely enclosed building, not a carport, open garage, or covered patio. If no enclosed building is available, get inside a hard-Topped metal vehicle. The steel frame of the vehicle provides protection if you are not touching metal.

2. Be the lowest point. Lightning likes to strike the tallest objects. If hiking in the mountains and above the tree line, you are the tallest object. Quickly get below tree line and get into a grove of small trees. Aside from this situation however, you should avoid trees. If you are in an open field, like a Farm or a baseball or soccer field, you are the tallest object. Dugouts or gazebos afford little protection. If you cannot get to an enclosed building or vehicle, crouch down on the balls of your feet.

3. Keep an eye to the sky for darkening clouds and listen for thunder. If you can hear it, go to a safe shelter immediately.

4. Get off of bicycles and motorcycles. Do not lean on vehicles.

5. Water is a great conductor of electricity. Get out of the water if boating or swimming. Get off the beach. Do not stand in puddles, even if wearing rubber boots.

6. Avoid metal. Do not hold golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis racquets, or tools. Large metal objects can conduct lightning. small metal objects, such as belt buckles, can cause burns.

7. Stay several yards away from other people. Do not share a bleacher or bench or huddle in a group.

8. Listen to NOAA weather radio. First to find out if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Next, listen to hear any short term forecasts about thunderstorm activity. Also, listen to hear if the warning alarm tone has been activated for severe thunderstorms in your area, which produce damaging winds and large hail in addition to lightning strikes.

More detailed information is available on the internet at www.Lightningsafety.NOAA.Gov .

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