What to do in case of lightning?
Each year, an average of 58 Americans are killed by lightning. Hundreds of others are injured. It is important to note that the reported number of injuries is likely far lower than the actual total number, because many people do not seek help or doctors do not record it as a lightning injury. People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Although in Washington state lightning storms are not as frequent in as in other states it is important to know how to be safe.
The best way is to avoid the lightning threat. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Recommendations:
- Have a lightning safety plan: Know where you’ll go for safety and how much time it will take to get there. Make sure your plan allows enough time to reach safety.
- Postpone activities: Before going outdoors, check the forecast for thunderstorms. Consider postponing activities to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
- Monitor the weather: Look for signs of a developing thunderstorm such as darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing wind.
- Get to a safe place: If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, immediately move to a safe place. Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing provide the best protection. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do NOT protect you from lightning. If a sturdy building is not nearby, get into a hard-topped metal vehicle and close all the windows. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
The National Athletic Trainers Association Position Statement on Lightning and Safety recommends the following:
- Use the flash-to-bang method. The observer begins counting when a lightning flash is sighted. Counting is stopped when the associated bang (thunder) is heard. Divide this count by five to determine the distance to the lightning flash (in miles). For example, a flash-to-bang count of 30 seconds equates to a distance of 6 miles (9.66 km).
- By the time the flash-to-bang count approaches 30 seconds (or is less than 30 seconds), all individuals should already be inside or should immediately seek a safe structure or location.
- Individuals who feel their hair stand on end or skin tingle or hear crackling noises should assume the lightning-safe position. Do not lie flat on the ground.
- Avoid taking showers and using plumbing facilities (including indoor and outdoor pools) and land-line telephones during thunderstorm activity. Cordless or cellular telephones are safer to use when emergency help is needed.
Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention.
Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately.
Call for help. Call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service.
Give first aid. Do not delay CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an AED if one is available.
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