Lightning Safety an Important Consideration in Summer

Jun 27, 2018
File Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Summer is the peak season for lightning, with 25 million strikes in the U.S. during these warmest months. According to the National Weather Service, more than 500 people are struck by lightning each year. And although only 10 percent of those individuals are killed, “the rest may live with disabling and painful injury,” notes the Ocean County Health Department, which recognizes Lightning Safety Awareness Week in late June.

According to Freeholder Director and Board of Health liaison Gerry P. Little, lightning strikes can occur from as far away as 25 miles from the center of a storm system, and the most dangerous times are before and after the climax of a storm. “As such,” said Little, “safety requires people to take shelter upon first hearing thunder or seeing an approaching storm on the horizon. When thunder roars, go indoors.”

As Health Coordinator Daniel E. Regenye noted, “Familiarizing one’s self with anticipated weather before heading to an outdoor activity and knowing the nearest safe place to take shelter are two of the most important safety precautions.

“The safest place to shelter during a storm is a large enclosed structure with plumbing and electrical wiring, such as a commercial building or house,” he added. “Lacking any nearby structures, taking shelter in a motor vehicle such as a bus or car is the next best alternative, providing the car is not a convertible.”

When lightning is nearby, take precautions to stay away from doors and windows, avoid washing dishes or taking a bath or shower, steer clear of concrete surfaces that may have buried wire and don’t touch “any ignition or electrical components inside a vehicle which may lead to the outside of the vehicle,” said Regenye. It’s also best not to use corded phones or touch electrical equipment.

“If one encounters a lightning victim, it is OK to touch that person to administer first aid while calling 911, as the body does not remain electrified after a lightning strike,” explained Brian Rumpf, director of administration and program development for the health department.

“Further myths debunked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” said Rumpf, “are that rain doesn’t need to be present for lightning to strike, rubber soled shoes or car tires alone offer no protection from lightning, and lightning often does strike the same place twice, with the Empire State building being struck 100 times per year on average.”  —J.K.H.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.