Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lightning safety: Take precautions to stay safe

Lightning can be very dangerous, killing dozens of people in the U.S. every year. The National Weather Service says there is a 1-in-3,000 chance that you will be hit by lightning in your lifetime. By following simple safety rules, you can avoid the danger of nature's light show and enjoy its beauty instead.

If you’re outdoors: Avoid water. Avoid the high ground. Avoid open spaces. Keep an eye at the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or if you have an umbrella; if you’re outdoors and thunder roars, it’s time to go indoors. Avoid all metal objects, including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors and power tools. If you’re playing an outdoor activity, wait at least 30 minutes after the last observed lightning strike or thunder. Don’t take shelter underneath canopies or small picnic or rain shelters or in areas near trees.

If you’re indoors : Avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Take off headsets. Water is a great conductor of electricity, so do not take a shower, wash your hands, wash dishes or do laundry. Do not use a corded or landline telephone because lightning may strike outside phone lines. Turn off, unplug and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools and TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.

If someone is struck by lightning : People who are struck by lightning don’t carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Call 911 or send for help immediately. Apply first aid if you are qualified to do so. People who have been hit by lightning can have damage to their nervous systems, so it’s important to seek medical care if struck.

For more on how to stay safe from lightning, visit ready.gov.

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