Editorial

Don't become complacent over lightning strikes

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Florida man was in critical condition after being struck by lightning Sunday, and seven other people who were nearby him on a Florida beach were sent to the hospital.

A 36-year-old Denver man was killed last week and his wife injured while they were hiking near Boulder.

Colorado hikers have learned to stay off high peaks before storms typically roll in about noon, and golfers and other outdoor sports participants know they should seek safe shelter when thunder can be heard.

The number of lightning strikes actually declined 8% for the first half of this year, according to a lightning monitoring company, but there were still nearly 48 million lightning strikes in the continental United States through June this year.

The largest of the contental states, Texas, recorded nearly 10.7 million strikes, Florida ranked sixth and Oklahoma was the state with the highest flash density, or lightning strikes per square mile.

When it comes to lightning, leave the observations to the professionals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these reminders:

Safety precautions outdoors

If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity.

Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter.

Donít forget the 30-30 rule. After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

If no shelter is available, crouch low, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 feet away.

Stay away from concrete floors or walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring. Although you should move into a non-concrete structure if possible, being indoors does not automatically protect you from lightning. In fact, about one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors.

Safety precautions indoors

Avoid water during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing.

Avoid electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems.

Avoid corded phones. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm.

Avoid concrete floors and walls.

Lightning strikes may be rare, but they still happen and the risk of serious injury or death is severe. So take thunderstorms seriously.

Learn and follow these safety rules to keep yourself safe from lightning.

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