June 24-30, 2012 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week.
Lightning strikes year-round, but summer is peak season. There have only been four lightning deaths in the United States so far in 2012, and there was a record low number of 26 lightning fatalities in 2011 – the 30-year average is 54 per year. Looking at trends in lightning fatalities from 2006-2011, there are a couple of clear patterns: most deaths (62 percent) occurred while people were enjoying leisure activities and most were males (81 percent).
Viewer Tip: Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, but it’s also the time of year when the threat from lightning peaks. With a little bit of knowledge and planning, you can reduce your risk of a lightning injury or fatality.
- Check the forecast before you go out. Have a safety plan in place. You may want to cancel or postpone outdoor activities if you know thunderstorms are expected.
- Look and listen for cues. Remember “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” If you hear thunder, you are in danger from lightning. Seeing lightning and hearing thunder very close together means that lightning is striking nearby.
- Avoid “natural lightning rods.” Lightning is attracted to metal, poles and rods. Avoid isolated trees, telephone and flag poles, golf clubs, baseball bats, fishing poles, bicycles, tractors and camping equipment during a storm.
- Find shelter. A sturdy building is the safest place during a thunderstorm. Avoid gazebos, baseball dugouts, picnic shelters, golf carts, bleachers and other isolated objects in open spaces.
Find more lightning safety tips from National Weather Service at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Image courtesy of NOAA.