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Lightning Safety Rules

Outdoors:

  • Never use a tree as a shelter.
    A lightning bolt hitting the top of a tree will continue its path to the ground passing through the trunk and possibly jumping to other objects nearby, including humans and animals.
  • Don't wait for the rain. Lightning can strike 10 to 12 miles ahead of the storm.
  • Wait until the storm is well past your location before going back out. Lightning can still strike several miles behind the storm.
  • Avoid areas that are higher than the surrounding landscape.
  • Keep away from metal objects including bikes, golf carts, fencing, machinery, etc.
  • Avoid standing near tall objects.
  • Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • If you are in a crowd, spread out so you will not be able to touch each other.
  • If you feel a tingling sensation, or your hair begins to stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you or very nearby. If so, crouch down and cover your ears. Do not lie down or place your hands on the ground.
  • Victims of lightning strikes should be administered CPR immediately. They hold no residual charge from the lightning and can be safely handled. In many cases, the strike to the victim could have stopped their heart. CPR is essential in saving their life.

Indoors:

  • Stand clear from open windows, doors and keep away from electrical appliances.
  • Do not attempt to unplug TVs, stereos, computers, etc. during a storm. Do this BEFORE the storm arrives.
  • Avoid contact with metal plumbing including sinks, baths and faucets that are connected to those pipes.
  • Do not use telephones that are connected directly to the phone jack. Use cellular and cordless phones with caution.

Boating:

  • Seek safe harbor immediately.
  • If not able to seek a safe harbor, go inside the cabin with windows and door closed.
  • If no cabin available, crouch down as low as possible without lying down.
  • If more than one person onboard, try to spread out so no one can touch each other.

Benefits:

Lightning has its benefits, particularly with natural fertilizers. The tremendous heat generated by a lightning discharge combines the natural elements of our atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen to form nitrates of nitrous oxide. This form of nitrate is mixed with the rains and fall to the earth. The nitrate of nitrous oxide is a natural fertilizer which is readily absorbed by plants, particularly, grass. Your grass is usually a touch greener a few days after a violent thunderstorm.


Book Review

“Out of the Blue”
A history of lightning: science, superstition, and amazing stories of survival
By John S. Friedman
Published: May, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-34115-8

I just finished reading “Out of the Blue” and found it to be fascinating. As a broadcast meteorologist for over 30 years, I have seen advances and value in lightning detection and education. There is a wealth of important lightning information in this book including history, physical attributes and safety advice. The book is fast reading and was extremely difficult to put down. The first hand reports (and quirks) from people who have been struck by lightning open the mind of the reader to pause and think about the value of life and religion. Why are some killed instantly while other walk away when struck? The story of the 13 member mountain climbing team ascending the Grand Tetons on July 26, 2003 explores the value of lightning safety, the human will to survive and the heroic struggle of those who came to the rescue when lightning struck. Every high school student (and their parents) should read this book.
Web site: www.outofthebluelightningbook.com
Patrick Prokop


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