Safer Design Leads to Safer Play During Lightning Season
July 31, 2012
New Website Connects Facilities and Patrons with Educational Materials
LPI and the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA) have joined forces to launch a lightning safety initiative to provide educational resources for outdoor recreational facilities. The “Safer Design for Safer Play” campaign features a new website, www.lightning-risk.org, that provides best practices for lightning safety and effective lightning protection measures for outdoor facilities such as theme parks, golf courses, playgrounds and sports stadiums. The website is an information warehouse which connects owners, operators, designers and patrons of recreational facilities with useful information about lightning, a deadly yet often underrated threat.
The “Safer Design for Safer Play” initiative dovetails with new efforts by the National Weather Service (NWS) to promote greater lightning safety at outdoor venues. The NWS has created a new “Lightning Safety Toolkit for Large Venues” that details the voluntary steps recreational facilities can adopt to better protect patrons from lightning threats in order to earn NWS recognition for a lightning safety program.
“The National Weather Service is pleased to see the lightning protection industry offer new educational resources to the public and those who design and operate recreational facilities,” said Donna Franklin, NWS program coordinator for lightning safety. “By leveraging our own efforts with the work of the private sector and other disaster safety organizations, we hope to help avert future lightning-related tragedies at outdoor venues.”
Lightning safety at outdoor recreational venues is a special concern, as a significant percentage of lightning deaths and injuries occur in these settings. Last September, a lifeguard at Adventure Island in Tampa, FL was killed while evacuating a water slide as a lightning storm approached. Just a month earlier, eight people were injured by a lightning strike after exiting a water pool at SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove in Orlando. Numerous other lightning fatalities and injuries have occurred at golf courses, campgrounds and baseball fields.
Providing lightning protection for recreational facilities with large open areas is difficult but not impossible. The new initiative is designed to connect recreational facility designers and operators with the educational resources they need to help reduce risk and keep patrons safe against lightning. Facility designers can rely on the same criteria that organizations like the FAA, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense have developed to protect munitions, piers, air fields and camps. These design criteria are described in the National Fire Protection Association Standard, NFPA 780 – Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems. Designers can also turn to LPI and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for more information on effective lightning protection system design. Detailed information about these standards is available at www.lightning-risk.org.
“As summer months carry an increased lightning threat, we encourage patrons of recreational facilities to visit lightning-risk.org to become better educated about how they can protect themselves and their families when visiting their favorite golf course, beach or theme park,” said Bud VanSickle, LPI executive director.
VanSickle also urged people to lend their support to the “Safer Design for Safer Play” initiative by clicking on the ‘Join the Lightning Safety Initiative’ button on the www.lightning-risk.org home page. Individuals and owners, operators or designers of recreational facilities can sign up for emails about upcoming educational and training opportunities relating to lightning safety and lightning protection systems or submit relevant reports, articles or presentations that can be posted on the lightning-risk.org website.