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LIGHTNING SAFETY. Lightning -- Significant Hazard. LIGHTNING: The Underrated Weather Hazard! 2nd Leading Cause Of Storm Deaths In U.S. (~ 60 / Year) More Than Tornadoes! More Than Hurricanes!. Top States For Lightning Deaths And Casualties. LIGHTNING DEATHS 1. FL

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Lightning safety


Lightning safety

Lightning -- Significant Hazard

  • LIGHTNING: The Underrated Weather Hazard!

    • 2nd Leading Cause Of Storm Deaths In U.S. (~ 60 / Year)

      • More Than Tornadoes! More Than Hurricanes!

Lightning safety

Top States For Lightning Deaths And Casualties


1. FL

2. TX

3. NC

4. OH

5. NY

6. TN

7. LA

8. CO (#3 1990-2003)

9. MD

10. PA


1. FL

2. MI

3. NC

4. PA

5. NY

6. OH

7. TX

8. CO

9. GA

10. TN

1959-2003(Holle Meteorology & Photography, Holle)

1959-2001(NWS/MLB, Bragaw)

Lightning -- Significant Hazard

Note the position of TEXAS on each list!

Lightning safety

When Thunderstorms Nearby, Avoid These Activities Like Your Life Depends On It -- It Does!

Farm & HeavyEquipment(5%)






Open Areas andHigh Places(Includes Sports Fieldsand Golfing (6% of total))(51%)

Lightning CasualtiesIn U.S. (1959-1994)(National Severe Storms Lab)

  • Lightning -- Significant Hazard

Lightning safety

Lightning Danger:

During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 58 people per year in the United States based on documented cases. That's more than the annual number of people killed by hurricanes and about the same as those killed by tornadoes. Many more are struck but survive. While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 400 per year, undocumented injuries caused by lightning are likely much higher.

Lightning safety

What is Lightning?

The action of rising and descending air within a thunderstorm separates positive and negative charges. Lightning results from the buildup and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas. Lightning can travel many ways: cloud-to-ground, ground to cloud, and cloud to cloud. In most strikes, the ground is positively charged.

Lightning safety

Each spark of lightning can reach over five miles in length, soar to temperatures of approximately 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit ( up to 4 times hotter than the surface of the sun), and contain between100 million and one billion electrical volts.

Artificial lightning and thunder can be created in a indoor labs using Tesla coils. Many science museums offer demonstrations of this phenomena.

What is thunder

What is Thunder?

  • Lightning rapidly heats the air in its immediate vicinity to about 28,000 °C (50,000 °F) about four times the temperature of the surface of the Sun. This compresses the surrounding clear air and creates a supersonic shockwave which decays to an acoustic wave that is heard as thunder. The lightning threat persists for up to 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard.

Lightning safety

Where does lightning strike?

Earth must obtain a charge before it can be the circuit connector for the process of lightning. This happens when a cloud above Earth's surface passes over and alters the charge of the ground. Earth generally acquires a positive charge from the passing cloud(s) and can then close the circuit; lightning begins to strike invisibly through the sky, from the cloud to the ground, completing the circuit. The visible portion of the strike then travels from ground to cloud.

If you are planning outdoor events

If you are planning outdoor events:

  • Have an action plan to cope with the chance of lightning.

  • Monitor weather radio for alerts

  • Plan for shelter needs and transportation capability, school buses can serve as both for large groups.

  • Provide communication ability and warnings to participants in storm prone areas.

Lightning safety

If you are caught outdoors…



High Ground

All metal objects


If in the open with lightning striking around you:

Crouch down and cover your ears. (don’t lay down)

Avoid proximity (approx. 15 feet) to other people.

Unsafe Places include:


Small picnic or rain shelters

Under or around trees

Lightning safety



Lightning safety

If you are indoors…

Avoid water and plumbing; pipes are great electrical conductors.

Stay away from doors and windows.

Do not use any telephone.

Take off head sets.

Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, & TV sets.

Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.

Surge protectors offer no protection from lightning!

First aid for lightning strike

First Aid for Lightning Strike

Note: Injured persons do not carry an electric charge

and can be safely treated!

  • Call for help or transport immediately to the closest emergency facility if medical resources are too far away.

  • Expose and treat for burns (especially exit wounds on extremities)

  • Treat for shock (no pun intended; enter obvious joke here) keep patient warm with blankets and place in a position of comfort.

  • Protect the airway, monitor pulse and perform CPR as needed.

  • Be optimistic – most strikes are not deadly

Lightning safety

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Half An Hour Since Thunder Roars,

Now It’s Safe To Go Outdoors!

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