Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lightning Safety Outdoors

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HUNTSVILLE AL
800 AM CDT WED JUN 24 2009

...LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK CONTINUES...
...LIGHTNING SAFETY OUTDOORS...

MOST LIGHTNING DEATHS AND INJURIES IN THE UNITED STATES OCCUR DURING
THE SUMMER MONTHS AND DURING THE AFTERNOON HOURS WHEN BOTH LIGHTNING
AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES REACH A PEAK. DURING THE SUMMER...PEOPLE TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF THE WARM WEATHER TO ENJOY A MULTITUDE OF RECREATIONAL
ACTIVITIES. TO BE SAFE...THOSE WHO ARE BOATING...SWIMMING...
FISHING...BICYCLING...GOLFING...JOGGING...WALKING...HIKING...
CAMPING...WORKING...OR JUST OUTSIDE IN THEIR BACK YARDS NEED TO TAKE
THE APPROPRIATE ACTIONS IN A TIMELY MANNER WHEN THUNDERSTORMS
APPROACH.

BEING OUTDOORS WHEN THUNDERSTORMS ARE NEARBY IS RISKY. THERE IS
SIMPLY NO SAFE PLACE OUTSIDE ANY TIME A THUNDERSTORM IS NEARBY. IN
2008...ALL LIGHTNING FATALITIES OCCURRED OUTDOORS AND MORE THAN ONE
THIRD OF THE FATALITIES INVOLVED WATER-RELATED ACTIVITIES. IN
ADDITION...MORE THAN A THIRD OF THE VICTIMS WERE UNDER OR NEAR A
TREE THAT WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.

TO MINIMIZE YOUR THREAT OF BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE
OUTDOORS...IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHEN THE LIGHTNING THREAT BEGINS
TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY AND WHEN THE THREAT IS REDUCED TO MINIMAL
LEVELS. IN GENERAL...THE THREAT BEGINS WELL BEFORE PEOPLE THINK IT
BEGINS...AND ENDS WELL AFTER PEOPLE THINK IT ENDS. UNFORTUNATELY...
ITS THIS LACK OF UNDERSTANDING THAT ACCOUNTS FOR MANY LIGHTNING
CASUALTIES.

WHILE NO ONE CAN COMPLETELY ELIMINATE THE RISK OF BEING STRUCK BY
LIGHTNING...BY USING SOME BASIC RULES...YOU CAN GREATLY REDUCE YOUR
RISK OF BECOMING A LIGHTNING CASUALTY.

1. PLAN AHEAD. IF THUNDERSTORMS ARE FORECAST...CONSIDER CANCELING OR
POSTPONING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES SO THAT YOU AVOID A POTENTIALLY
DANGEROUS SITUATION.

2. MONITOR THE WEATHER CONDITIONS. WATCH THE SKY FOR ANY SIGNS OF A
DEVELOPING OR APPROACHING STORM...PARTICULARLY IF YOU NEED A LONG
TIME TO GET TO A SAFE PLACE.

3. IF THE SKY LOOKS THREATENING OR YOU HEAR THUNDER...IMMEDIATELY
SEEK SAFETY INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING. IF A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING
IS NOT AVAILABLE...TAKE SHELTER IN A HARD-TOPPED METAL VEHICLE.
REMAIN THERE FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES AFTER THE LAST FLASH OF
LIGHTNING IS SEEN OR THE LAST THUNDER IS HEARD. SOME LIGHTNING
VICTIMS HAVE MADE THE MISTAKE OF RETURNING OUTDOORS BEFORE THE
THREAT IS OVER.

4. IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE IN A THUNDERSTORM...YOU SHOULD AVOID
THINGS THAT INCREASE YOUR RISK OF BEING STRUCK. REMEMBER THOUGH...
TO SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER THE RISK OF BEING STRUCK YOU MUST GET
INSIDE. IN THESE INSTANCES...AVOID TALL OBJECTS SUCH AS TALL TREES
AND POLES...AVOID THINGS THAT CONDUCT ELECTRICITY SUCH AS METAL
BLEACHERS OR WIRE FENCES...AND TRY TO GET TO A SAFE PLACE AS FAST AS
YOU CAN.

IF YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED IN ORGANIZED OUTDOOR
RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES...MAKE SURE IN ADVANCE THAT THE OFFICIALS IN
CHARGE HAVE AND FOLLOW A SPECIFIC LIGHTNING SAFETY PLAN. DONT BE
AFRAID TO ASK. COACHES...UMPIRES...REFEREES...OR CAMP COUNSELORS
MUST LEARN TO PROTECT THE SAFETY OF THE PARTICIPANTS AND SPECTATORS
TO GET TO A SAFE PLACE BEFORE THE LIGHTNING THREAT BECOMES
SIGNIFICANT. IN CERTAIN INSTANCES...SUBSTANTIAL BUILDINGS MAY NOT BE
AVAILABLE FOR SHELTER...AND CARS AND BUSES MAY PROVIDE THE BEST
PROTECTION...BUT BE SURE THE WINDOWS ARE CLOSED AND THAT THE
OCCUPANTS AVOID CONTACT WITH ANY METAL IN THE VEHICLE.

FINALLY...DONT FORGET THE SAFETY OF YOUR OUTSIDE PETS. DOG HOUSES
ARE NOT SAFE...AND DOGS WHICH ARE CHAINED TO METAL CHAINS OR WIRE
RUNNERS ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO A NEARBY LIGHTNING STRIKE.


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT LIGHTNING AND LIGHTNING SAFETY...
VISIT THE LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEB SITE AT:

HTTP://WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV/ (ALL LOWER CASE)

$$

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