Hello my friends, and welcome to the Summer of 2012. I usually write about nutrition and fitness, but this year I am going to stray a bit and write about a serious killer: lightning. According to the National Weather Service (noaa.gov), summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena— lightning. Each year in the U.S., there are about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes- each one of these a potential killer. During the last 30 years, lightning has killed an average of 73 people per year in the U.S. This is more than the 68 that are killed by tornadoes or the average of 16 killed by hurricanes. Because lightning only claims one or two victims at a time, and because it does not cause the mass destruction left in the wake of hurricanes or tornadoes, lightning generally receives much less attention than the more destructive storm-related killers. Lightning also injures 300 people a year; however, undocumented injuries caused by lightning are likely much higher. While many people think they are aware of the dangers of lightning, the vast majority are not. Lack of understanding with regard to the dangers of lightning continues to be a significant problem in the U.S. Many people do not act to protect their lives, their property and the lives of others in a timely manner simply because they do not understand all the dangers associated with thunderstorms and lightning. This lack of knowledge can also lead to very tragic consequences. Hundreds of people are permanently injured each year. People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, chronic pain, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and more.
Education and awareness are key to reducing the number of people struck by lightning. People need to become aware of what behavior puts them a greater risk of being struck by lightning and know what they can do to reduce that risk. Adults in charge of outdoor activities and events, particularly those that involve children, should have and follow a specific lightning safety plan to minimize danger to participants and spectators. For more information, visit NOAA’s website at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Here are several important lightning prevention tips from the article Beware of Lightning):
- Watch for developing thunderstorms.
- With an approaching thunderstorm, seek safe shelter.
- Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining.
- If you can hear thunder, you are in striking distance of lightning!
- If you can hear thunder: avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
- If you can hear thunder: avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Stay away from all pools, indoor and outdoor, tubs and showers.
- With an approaching thunderstorm, avoid contact with corded phones, computers, and all other electrical equipment. Buy surge protectors for all electrical equipment.
- With an approaching thunderstorm: stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches
- Wait 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder before going out again.
- With an approaching thunderstorm: do not seek shelter under tall or isolated trees. Lightning typically strikes the tallest object in an area.
- With an approaching thunderstorm: avoid open areas.
- With an approaching thunderstorm: do not seek shelter under partially enclosed buildings.
- With an approaching thunderstorm: if you are camping, be ready to seek safe shelter in a vehicle or substantial building.
- A tent offers no protection from lightning.
- Stay away from metal fences and poles that could conduct lightning to you.
- With an approaching thunderstorm: if you are on a boat, return to shore immediately and seek safe shelter.
- If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately.
- Leaders of outdoors events should have a written plan on how to deal with thunderstorms and lightning that all staff are aware of and enforce.
Here are some alarming statistics about those people that were killed by lightning:
- 98% were outside
- 89% were male
- 30% were males between the ages of 20-25
- 25% were standing under a tree
- 25% occurred on or near water
So my friends, be careful out there. Follow the prevention tips and have a safe outdoor experience. And always stay fit and healthy The Nerdel Way!