As Lightning Safety Week continues the National Weather Service offers tips on how to stay safe during lightning season. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), every year there are dozens of deaths reported due to lightning strikes. Most of the fatal strikes happen during the summer months when thunderstorms occur and people are more likely to be outdoors. Lightning season ranges from April to November and the most common time for people to be struck is between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The NOAA says that the key to staying safe is preparation. First of all, check the weather to see if thunderstorms are predicted. If so, then an event or activity can be postponed or cancelled. If caught in the middle of a thunderstorm and lightning strikes nearby, safe shelters include cars with hard tops, trucks, and buildings with plumbing. While rubber tires will not stop the lightning, it will travel on the outside of the metal. Avoid areas like dugouts, bus stops, and being outside in the open. If a thunderstorm appears, do not stand under a tall tree. Avoid being near any tall objects, but try not to remain out in the open. The Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages that if you feel your hair standing on end, crouch down on the balls of your feet and make yourself the smallest target as you possibly can.
If lightning does strike someone, it is also vital to be prepared by knowing safety procedures. According to the NOAA, the first concern is cardiac arrest. If someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest start CPR immediately or use an automated exportable external defibrillator. Injuries by lightning strikes include fractures, concussions, ruptured eardrums, headaches, burns, or even personality changes.