This time of year means more time outside—and the need to take special precautions
Summer can mean some sever weather, and lightning can pose a significant threat to those of us who like to spend a lot of time outside. It’s important to take these dangers seriously, and to take necessary precautions. According to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), lightning strikes the U.S. about 25 million times a year—and most of those lightning strikes occur in the summer. Lightning kills an average of 47 Americans each year, and severely injures hundreds more. We want to make sure you’re not part of those statistics.
Here is some basic lightning information and guidelines to lead you through a safe summer.
Some lightning trivia
- Lightning is a rapid discharge of electrical energy in the atmosphere.
- Lightning can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit—five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
- The clap of thunder that happens in the wake of a lightning strike is the result of a shock wave created by the lightning channel, and the rapid heating and cooling of the air there.
- Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly if it is a tall, isolated object.
- Most lightning victims are in open areas or near a tree.
Lightning safety tips
- There is no outside area that’s safe when there is a thunderstorm.
- If you can hear thunder, that means that lightning is close enough to strike you.
- When you hear thunder, move immediately to safe shelter. This should be a substantial building with electricity or plumbing, or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.
- After you hear the last sound of thunder, stay in safe shelter for at least 30 more minutes.
Beware of the indoor risks of lightning risks
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Stay off corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets.
- Avoid laying on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls—they can conduct electricity.
A last resort, if you’re caught outdoors
- Immediately leave elevated areas, such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks
- Do not lie flat on the ground.
- Do not seek shelter under an isolated tree.
- Avoid seeking shelter under a cliff or rocky overhang.
- Immediately get away from bodies of water such as ponds and lakes.
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.).
Now that you have some basic information, feel free share these tips with friends and family. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention—when it comes to your health and safety, that’s never been more important.
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School. We offer several professional training programs at our campuses in Malden and Fall River, MA. Reach out to us today for more information or to schedule a campus tour!