Four ways to prepare for the dog days of summer to take the bite out of lightning’s increased threat.
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer and summertime fun in the great outdoors. As the onset of summer ushers in elevated thunderstorm activity, here are four things Americans can do to better prepare themselves for the lightning threat.
1. Take the lightning threat seriously.
Most lightning victims are steps away from lightning safety—a reminder not to be apathetic about lightning. Although approximately 90% of lightning victims survive being struck by lightning, injuries can be severe and debilitating, as detailed in this video. Remember to heed lightning’s warning “bark.” If you hear thunder five seconds after you see a lightning flash, you can estimate that lightning is about a mile away, and too close for comfort. Since no place outside is safe from lightning, be sure to practice this simple, yet life-saving safety advice: When thunder roars, stay indoors!
2. Plan ahead to avoid the risk, but know what to do if unexpected weather strikes.
Remember to plan ahead for outdoor activities by checking weather forecasts and monitoring changing weather conditions. When in a group, make sure to have an agreed upon lightning plan in place and be ready to act in time to get everyone to a safe place when unexpected weather conditions warrant a quick response. If a safe place is not available, these safety tips may reduce your chances of being struck when caught outdoors.
3. Get to know lightning to understand its dangers.
Learning more about the science of lightning can go a long way to helping humans understand more about how lightning impacts people, places and property. Just in time for summer storm season, the lightning experts at Vaisala have published, “So You Think You Know Lightning: A Collection of Electrifying Fast Facts!” The fun and easy-to-read booklet is designed to help the young and old understand the basics about lightning physics, safety and detection.
4. Learn the facts to help dispel the fallacies about lightning safety and protection.
Despite increased awareness about the dangers of lightning and the benefits of lightning protection systems, misunderstandings about safety measures persist. Unfortunately, repeated myths about lightning and false claims about lightning protection have put people and property at risk. The Lightning Protection Institute frequently posts blogs and Q&A information to help separate fact from fallacy about lightning safety and lightning protection.
Benjamin Franklin was right when he coined the phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although the quote is frequently used when referring to health, historians say that Franklin actually was addressing fire safety—and perhaps his invention of the lightning rod, as well. Preventing lightning deaths, injuries and property losses before they happen is why the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) continues to collaborate with like-minded partners to develop lightning safety and lightning protection resources. Visit lightning.org to learn more and be sure to share LPI’s resources to help further lightning safety in your community!