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National Lightning Safety Awareness Week brings tips for summer activities

National Weather Service

This week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and the National Weather Service (NWS) wants to remind the public of the rare but real dangers of lightning strikes. This information is particularly pertinent for Floridians, also known as the lighting capital of the country.

According to an analysis by the NWS, 418 people were struck and killed by lightning strikes in the U.S. between 2006 and 2019. Four people were killed in Florida in 2021 alone. Even though only 10% of lightning strike victims die, many are left with long-term health effects like chronic pain and neurological issues. Thankfully, lightning injuries and deaths can be avoided by following simple guidelines.

The NWS analysis concludes that two-thirds of these lightning-related incidents occurred during leisurely outdoor activities. These incidents peak during the months of June, July and August, when people tend to enjoy outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, golfing and swimming. That’s why the NWS promotes the “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” motto. It is recommended that as soon as you hear thunder, to seek shelter indoors or in a hard-topped vehicle, and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of lightning before resuming activities.

While inside, avoid using corded phones, interacting with running water, and sitting by windows or porches.

If there is no place for you to seek shelter, there are things you can do to mitigate your risk if you are caught outdoors. The rule of thumb is to avoid being the tallest object, or being near the tallest object, in a given area. That means avoiding wide open spaces where you are the tallest thing off the ground. This also means avoiding isolated trees, towers or utility poles.

If someone is struck by lightning, seek medical attention immediately.