According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), most lightning fatalities occur in June and July. In 2016, 38 people died in the US from lightning strikes that they probably could have avoided.
June 19 – 23 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week in Rhode Island, so we’ve provided a few tips to help you stay safe during a lightning storm.
If you hear thunder, you’re within striking distance of lightning. Successive strikes nearby indicate that you are aligned with the storm, and it may move towards you.
Take shelter, preferably inside a building, but a vehicle will provide protection, too. Don’t go outside unless it’s unavoidable and, if you can, wait at least 30 minutes after the storm passes before you go outside again.
If you’re sitting in a car, watch for downed power lines. You’re fine while inside, but the moment that you set foot outside you put yourself in danger. Call for help and stay in your vehicle.
Stay Away From Tall Objects
If you cannot get inside of a building or vehicle, stay in a dry, low lying area such as a ditch.
Don’t sit in a vehicle next to a tall tree or power pole. Avoid metal fences, bicycles, machinery, and wires, too. They’re great electrical conductors, and lightning is more likely to strike them and electrify the surrounding ground.
Unplug & Avoid
If you take refuge inside your home, unplug electrical appliances and electronics. Electricity can travel through wiring and electrical cords, because they offer the path of least resistance. Electricity can also follow metal conduit and plumbing pipes in your home, so you should avoid touching those, as well.
If you have a landline telephone, don’t touch the phone. Avoid doors and windows as well as metal fixtures such as metal bathtubs, showers, or sinks. Don’t jump in the shower or bath during a lightning storm, or start a load of laundry either. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outdoors.
Get Out of the Water
Swimming is particularly dangerous during a lightning storm. A swimmer’s head protruding above the waterline presents an ideal target for a lightning strike.
If you’re in a boat on the water when the storm comes up, try to get to shore as quickly as possible. A boat cabin does offer some protection, but it is still preferable to get on land. Lightning can travel long distances when it strikes the water.
Victims Can’t Shock You
If a person is hit by lightning, they’ll need immediate medical attention. Contrary to some common myths, they don’t carry a charge, so you can perform mouth-to-mouth or CPR if necessary.
Call 9-1-1, lay the person down with their head slightly lower than their torso, and keep them warm because they’re probably in shock. Do not remove burned clothing unless absolutely necessary – wait for the paramedics to arrive.
If lightning strikes your house, call the fire department. Even a small spark from a strike can start a fire. The fire department will check your home and assess any damage. Lightning Safety Awareness Week is also a great time to speak to your insurance agent to make sure that you have the adequate homeowners insurance coverage, in case you do get caught in a storm – give us a call, today!