Sitting in the backyard under a tree, coaching soccer in a neighborhood field, and walking uphill seeking cell phone reception: Last year people doing everyday activities such as these were struck and killed by lightning, the second leading cause of storm-related deaths in the United States. Do you have a thunderstorm safety plan?
- The first step in to watch the local weather forecasts and know your local weather patterns. Change your plans if there is a forecast of a storm.
- Storms can pop up, so keep your eye on the sky. Bring along a weather or AM radio, or download a weather alert app to your smartphone.
- If you hear thunder, go indoors – immediately. Then don’t go back outside until 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder.
- The best shelter is a house or other fully enclosed building, and stay away from windows and doors. Don’t touch electrical equipment, corded telephones or plumbing, which all conduct electricity.
- If you can’t get to a house, a vehicle with a metal roof and metal sides is a good second choice. Roll-up the windows, lean away from the door, and don’t touch any electricity-conducting path, such as the radio, keys in the ignition, or steering wheel.
- Avoid hazardous places, such as on playground equipment, pools, boats, sports fields, beaches, elevated areas and tall isolated objects like trees.
Lightning Safety Awareness Week kicks off this year on June 22, 2014. Visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov for more information.