Lightning is a serious hazard both on and off the job. There is an average of 25 million lightning strikes that occur in the United States each year alone. Individuals need to identify and plan for the potential of lightning before beginning a work activity or any leisure activity during storm season. Have a plan of when you will cease work and where you will go if lightning occurs during that day. The best practice to avoid getting struck by lightning is to take shelter indoors before a storm is in your immediate area.
From 2006 to July 2016 there were 326 lightning-related fatalities.
257 of the victims were male and 59 were female.
Most deaths occurred in the months of June, July, and August
Many victims were headed to safety at the time of the fatal strike.
Watch for developing thunderstorms: Clouds that grow vertically into towering cumulus clouds are often the first sign of a developing thunderstorm.
When thunderstorms threaten, don’t start projects you can’t stop quickly. Pay attention to the daily forecasts so you know what to expect during the day. Pay attention to early signs of thunderstorms: high winds, dark clouds, rain, distant thunder or lightning.
Objects and equipment to avoid during thunderstorms. Stay off and away from tall objects like rooftops, scaffolding, ladders, and large equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes and tractors. Do not touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing.
Use the 30-30 rule. When you see lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the storm is within 6 miles and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately. A safe shelter is an enclosed building. A metal topped vehicle is also safe. Avoid open-air structures and tall trees. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter. Don’t be fooled by sunshine or blue sky.
Helping a lightning strike victim: Call 911 immediately. Start CPR if necessary. Cardiac arrest, burns, and nerve damage are common injuries. With proper treatment, most survive.
Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.
Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.
Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.
Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!
Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!
Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.
Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.
Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.
Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.