Lightning Safety Awareness, Part 2

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is a good time to be aware of how you can protect yourself from lightning when you are outdoors.

Sometimes our outdoor summer activities are plagued by thunderstorms.

When you venture outdoors, you should always be aware of changes in the weather. When clouds begin growing taller, thunderstorms may be forming. All thunderstorms contain lightning, and lightning is always dangerous.

A good rule of thumb is the "30-30 rule."

"You see lightning, start counting. If you hear the thunder within 30 seconds, you need to go indoors," said John Baxter of the National Weather Service. "At the last time you heard thunder, wait 30 minutes before you go back outdoors."

You may be in a situation where you cannot get inside. In a case like this, you should find another safe shelter.

"If you can't get inside quickly, a shelter, especially one that may have electricity provided to a little picnic barbecue area, because that's got metal piping around the wiring and it has the metal wiring, that will provide some limited amount of safety," Baxter said.

With lightning nearby, you never want to be the tallest object or near the tallest object in an area. Areas near isolated trees or the tallest trees in a group are often among the more dangerous places to seek shelter.

In the water, whether swimming or in a boat, may be the most dangerous place to be during lightning. If you are enjoying water activities when lightning threatens, you should leave the water immediately.

"Be aware of the weather around you, and be willing to forego a little bit of fun today so that you can have some fun tomorrow," said Baxter.

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