In an annual coordinated effort with the National Weather Service (NWS), the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is promoting June 23-29 as National Lightning Safety Awareness Week and encourages all Ohioans to know what to do before, during and after thunderstorms, and to practice severe weather safety and preparedness throughout the summer.
Although lightning strikes can occur at any time during the year, summertime is usually peak season for thunder and lightning storms.
Since the inception of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, lightning fatalities in the U.S. have dropped from about 50 per year to an average of 30 or less per year. The NWS attributes this reduction to this weather safety campaign, to a greater awareness of lightning danger, and people seeking safe shelter when thunderstorms threaten.
As of Friday, June 14, four people had died after being struck by lightning in the United States this year. In 2018, there were 20 lightning fatalities in a total of 10 states; no fatalities in Ohio, according to the NWS 2019 Lightning Fatalities. There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm.
Lightning safety is can save your life — “When thunder roars, go indoors!” Stop outdoor activities and seek safe shelter immediately.
The NWS and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourage Ohioans to prepare for thunder and lightning storms, and all severe weather events. Following are some thunder and ightning safety tips:
* Listen to current weather reports on local TV or radio stations, or use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio. Be aware of changing weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms can produce hail, damaging winds and/or tornadoes.
* There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm.
* If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike.
* When you hear thunder, move to safe shelter immediately, such as a substantial building with electricity and/or plumbing, or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.
* Stay inside a safe building or vehicle for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor lightning safety tips:
* Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that could put you in direct contact with electricity.
* Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
* Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
* Do not lie on concrete floors. Do not lean against concrete walls.
Outdoor risk reduction tips:
* Do not stay on elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
* Never lie flat on the ground.
* Never shelter under an isolated tree.
* Do not use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
* Avoid being in or near bodies of water such as beaches, swimming pools, ponds or lakes.
* Avoid contact with anything metal – tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, wire fences, golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, etc.
* If driving during a severe thunderstorm, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency hazard lights until the heavy rain stops. Avoid flooded roadways and bridges.
Just 12 inches of moving water can sweep away most vehicles. To minimize the risk of being struck by lightning, just remember “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” and stay indoors until at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder or crack of lightning. For additional information on lightning safety, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, ReadyOhio, or the NWS site at www.weather.gov/safety/lightning.
Submitted by David Bushelman, director, Highland County EMA.