Mary Alice Reporting – To bring attention to an underrated killer, National Lightning Safety Awareness Week became official in 2001.
The National Weather Service promotes the reminder to avoid the threat, especially when outdoors, with key prevention steps including listening to the forecast and canceling any activities if thunderstorms are imminent, continuing to monitor weather conditions, and if thunder is heard, getting to a safe place.
National Light and Safety Council Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius says that these tips are important, especially during the summer months, when outdoor recreational activities are more prominent.
“You’ll need to pay attention to possible signs of approaching or developing storms. Keep in mind that many lightning victims were seeking safety when they were struck. The problem is they just didn’t start soon enough. It’s a common mistake. People wait far too long to start seeking safety and that puts them in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.”
Some of the top activities contributing to the most US lightning fatalities include fishing, being at the beach, camping, farming, riding a bicycle or motorcycle, followed by boating, social gathering, roofing, yard work, construction, and sporting events.
Lightning can strike from a nearby thunderstorm, even if it’s not raining in an individual’s location. When finding a safe shelter, stay away from windows, doors, upper floors, and plugged-in appliances or electrical equipment.
The NWS reports that lightning kills or injures hundreds of people each year in the United States, with 2020 seeing 17 deaths and 2021 had 11 reported.
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