When Lightning Strikes:Preparing for Severe Weather During Major Events
Presented by:Darcie Christensen, DPT, ATC Saint Elizabeth Sports & Physical Therapy The Physician Network 575 S. 70th Street, Suite 300 (402) 219-7498 5000 N. 26th Street, Suite 400 (402) 742-8410 1230 Aries Drive, Suite D (402) 434-5895 2510 S. 40th Street (402) 486-3333
Goals and Objectives • Review the NATA Position Statement: Lightning Safety for Athletics and Recreation. • Identify the key components of Emergency Action Plans (EAP’s) necessary to ensure participant and spectator safety during severe weather. • Review the National Weather System/ Emergency Alert System Classifications.
Supporting Documents http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/2013_lightning-position-statement.pdf http://www.csm-institute.com/NOAA_-_Large_Venues.pdf
NATA POSITION STATEMENT • Released in 2013 • Goal: To provide information specific to lightning safety, prevention and treatment for certified athletic trainers and those involved with athletics and recreation.
En- “Lightening” Information • Most dangerous and frequently encountered thunderstorm hazard encountered each year. • In the United States: • Average of 42 fatalities annually during the last decade • Greatest number in July • Most casualties occur between 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM • 2010-2011 • 48% of lightning deaths attributed to sports. • 62% of lightning deaths attributed to recreation. • 2014 (to date) • 6 lightning fatalities (3 associated with sports/recreation) (NOAA. www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov) • Worldwide • 24,000 deaths annually • 240,000 injuries annually
NOAA Statisticshttp://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/resources/RecentLightningDeaths.pdf Lightning Fatalities by Activity Lightning Fatalities by Sport
Cloud to Ground Lightning Strikes • 25 million lightening strikes annually. • Areas of greatest activity: • Florida • Gulf States • Front Range of Rocky Mountains • Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys
Cloud to Ground Lightning Strikes • Product of build-up of (+) and (-) charged regions in cloud. • Lightning Flash typically originates in negative charged region of the cloud. Moves in series of stepped leaders toward ground. • Objects on ground create positive charged leaders that rise to meet the descending leader. • Connection of two determines the point of termination on the ground. • Thunder is the result of the rapid heating of the air and rapid expansion of the air surrounding the lightning bolt
Lightning Channel • 1-inch in diameter • 3-5 miles long • Average • 30,000 amps • 50 million to 500 million volts
Recommendations from NATA Position Statement • 8 Subject Areas • Establish a Lightning Specific Emergency Action Plan • Lightning and General Awareness • Identify Locations Safe from Lightning • Identify Locations Unsafe from Lightning • Criteria for Postponement and Resumption of Activities • Large Venue Planning • First Aid • Personal Safety and Notification of Participants of Lightning Danger • 25 Individual Recommendations
NATA Recommendation 1- Establish a Lightning-Specific EAP • EAP should include the following • Promote lightning-safety slogans supported by the National Weather Service. • Establish a chain of command identifying a specific person who is to make the decision to remove individuals from field or activity • This person must have the unchallengeable authority to suspend activity. • Use a reliable means of monitoring the weather. • Identify safe locations from lightning hazard in advance of the event for each venue. • Identify specific criteria for suspending and resuming activity in the EAP.
Lightning Slogans • “NO place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!” • “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” • “Half An Hour Since Thunder Roars, Now It’s Safe To Go Outdoors!”
NATA Recommendation 2-Lightning and General Awareness • Use a designated weather watcher and the National Weather Service to monitor local weather. • This person is charged with notifying the Chain of Command. • Consider subscribing to a commercial, real-time lightning detection service.
NATA Recommendation 3 Identify Locations Safe from Lightning NATA Recommendation 4 Identify Locations Unsafe from Lightning • For each venue identify substantial, fully enclosed buildings to serve as a safe place from lightning. • Identify before the event. • Ensure access during the activity. • Fully enclosed metal vehicles such as school buses, cars and vans are also safe. • Places termed as “shelters” • “Picnic,” “Sun,” “Rain” • Locations with open areas • Tents, dugouts, gazebos, press boxes, open garages. • Tall objects and bodies of water. • Trees, poles, towers • Swimming Pools • Inside with proximity to plumbing or wiring • Showers, sinks, indoor pools, appliances or other electronics
NATA Recommendation 5-Criteria for Postponement and Resumption of Activities • Postpone or suspend if thunderstorm appears imminent before or during activity. • All individuals must be completely within an identified safe location when thunderstorms are producing lightning and approaching the location and the leading edge of the storm is within 6 miles. • Allow time for individuals to evacuate the premises and be completely within the designated safe locations. • Suspend activities until 30 minutes after the last strike of lightning is seen (or at least 6 miles away). • 30 minute clock restarts for each lightning flash within 6 miles and each time thunder is heard.
How Far Is It?Ways to determine distance of the storm from the venue. • Commercial devices • Hand-Held • SkyScan Lightning Detection Systems • Thor Guard • Smartphone/mobile devices • DTN/Meteorlogix • iStrike **This is not an exhaustive list and is intended to be used only as examples of the technologies that are available**
How Far Is It?If all else fails… • Flash-to-Bang • Count the seconds from the time lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard. • Divide this number by five (5) to obtain how far away in miles the lighting has occurred. • For Example- if an individual counts 30 seconds between seeing the flash and hearing the bang, 30/5 equals 6, therefore the lightning flash is approximately 6 miles away. • All individuals should have left the site and be in a safe location by the time the flash-to-bang method is 30 seconds.
NATA Recommendation 6-Large Venue Planning • A specific lightning-safety plan for large scale events should be established. A complete tool kit can be found at: http://www.csm-institute.com/NOAA_-_Large_Venues.pdf . The plan should include: • Use of a reliable weather monitoring system to determine whether to cancel or postpone prior to start of activity. • Means to prevent spectators from entering an outdoor venue when the event is suspended. Spectators should be directed to nearest safe location. • Identification of enough close-proximity substantial building and fully enclosed metal vehicles to hold all individuals (spectators and participants). • Means to ensure a safe and orderly evacuation from the event. • Announcements, signage, safety information in event programs and brochures, entrances that serve as exits, ushers available to assist • Consideration for the time it takes to notify and move all individuals so that they can be completely in a safe location by the time the leading edge of the storm is within 6 miles.
NATA Recommendation 7-First Aide • Active thunderstorms can pose an ongoing hazard to rescuers as well as participants and spectators. Rescuers and Emergency Personnel must ensure their own personal safety before entering venue to provide aid. • Activate EMS. Evaluate and treat in the following manner: • Move to a safe location if necessary; • Evaluate and treat for apnea and or cardiac arrest; • Assess level of consciousness; • Evaluate and treat for possible spinal cord injury; • Evaluate and treat for hypothermia • Personnel responsible for well-being of participants should maintain current CPR and First-Aid Certification. • If AED is available, it should be applied on anyone who appears to be unconscious, pulseless or apneic.
NATA Recommendation 8-Personal Safety and Notification of Participants of Lightning Danger • If thunder can be heard, lightning is close enough to be a hazard and people should go to a safe location immediately. • In the event of impending thunderstorms, those in control of outdoor events should fulfill their obligation to warn participants and guests of lightning danger. • All individuals have the right to vacate an outdoor site or unsafe area, without fear of repercussion or penalty, in order to seek a lightning-safe location if they feel in danger from impending lightning activity.
National Weather Service Terminology • Severe Thunderstorm Watch • “The potential exists for the development of thunderstorms which may produce large hail or damaging winds. When a watch is issued, you should go about your normal activities, but keep an eye to the sky and an ear to the NWS or local radio or television stations for further updates and possible warnings.”
National Weather Service Terminology • Severe Thunderstorm Warning • “A severe thunderstorm is occurring or imminent based on doppler radar information. You should move indoors to a place of safety. Schools should think about delaying departure of buses and should take quick action to delay outdoor sports, activities, etc.” • Refers to hail that is dime size, .75 inches in diameter or larger and/or wind gusts to 58 mph or more. • Rain and Lighting are not criteria used to define “severe.”
Summary… • Formalize and implement a lightning-safety policy and/or EAP before the season starts or event occurs. It should include the following: • Established and recognized chain of command; • Reliable means of monitoring the weather; • A list of previously identified, venue specific safe structures; • Criteria for suspension of activity, evacuation of facility, and all-clear signals. • Use lightning safety slogans. • Practice and follow published lightning-safety guidelines; • Maintain CPR and first-aid certifications and have AEDs and other first aide equipment readily available.
Resources for Lightning Safety • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (www.noaa.gov) • National Weather Service (www.nws.noaa.gov) • Lightning Safety (www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov) • Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International (www.lightning-strike.org)
References • Walsh, K, Cooper, M. National Athletic Trainers Association Position Statement: Lightning Safety for Athletics and Recreation. Journal of Athletic Training. 2013;48(2):258-270 • National Weather Service. www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Thank yous • Rusty McKune, ATC Sports Medicine Coordinator The Nebraska Medical Center • Jeff Rudy, Ph.D., ATC Director of Athletic Training Education Department of Nutrition and Health Science