Staying Safe When Lightning Strikes; Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 24-30, 2012

Information provided by: Wisconsin Emergency Managment

Each year more than 400 people are struck by lightning in the United States. An average of 54 people are killed and hundreds of others suffer lifelong pain and permanent neurological disabilities. In Wisconsin we have had 23 lightning deaths since 1982 (see map).

You can protect yourself and your family by knowing these simple lightning safety facts and tips:

If you hear thunder, you are in danger. Don’t be fooled by blue skies. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat. Remember: When Thunder Roars…Go Indoors!

  • A fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing offers the best protection. Sheds, picnic shelters and covered porches DO NOT protect you from lightning.
  • If a building is not available get into a hard-topped metal vehicle and close all the windows.
  • Stay inside a safe building or vehicle for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
  • Don’t use a corded phone except in an emergency. Cordless and cell phones are safe to use.
  • Keep away from electrical equipment and wiring.
  • Because water pipes conduct electricity, don’t take a bath or shower or use other plumbing during a storm.
  • Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike taller object in an area.

Get an Emergency Weather Radio. It will broadcast the latest forecast for thunderstorms. Remember, any thunderstorm, whether it is severe or not, can produce deadly lightning.

Act fast if someone is struck by lightning:

Lightning victims don’t carry an electric charge and are safe to touch and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death.

If possible, move the victim to a safer place. Lightning can strike twice. Don’t be a victim.

Lightning Facts:

  • Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms; each year lightning strikes the United States 25 million times.
  • Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially tall isolated objects.
  • Most lightning victims are in open areas or near a tree.
  • The energy from one lightning flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
  • The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000°F-five times hotter than the surface of the sun!
  • The rapid heating and cooling of the air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave which results in thunder.

Lightning Myths:

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.

Fact: The metal roof and sides protect you, NOT the rubber tires. When lightning strikes a vehicle it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on the vehicle doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike you should lie flat on the ground.

Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being hit by a ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm keep moving toward a safe shelter.

Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game it is OK to finish before seeking shelter.

Fact: Many lighting casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or lifelong injuries. Seek shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.

For additional information about lightning safety and awareness go to http: readywisconsin.wi.gov. You can also contact your local public health department, county emergency management director or the National Weather Service.

For more safety tips please review:

Thunderstorm Safety Checklist

Power Outage Checklist

Northeast WI Year End Wrap

By Guest Blogger Steve Hansen, Regional Chapter Executive  

There isn’t a household in America that hasn’t benefited from the life-saving mission of the American Red Cross. Together, we prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies through a network of dedicated volunteers, community partners, staff and donors alike. We thank you all! 

Did you know our volunteers are called into action nearly every-other day in Northeast WI? Around the clock, our staff and trained volunteers provide the basic need services to help individuals and families weather any storm. Residential fires are the most common (90%) of our responses. Additionally, we experienced several multi-county floods and deployed individuals across the nation through our mutual aid system. Through thick and thin, all disaster assistance is free just when people need a little help the most. This support is made possible through the generosity the American people.

This year, we supported more than 1,630 military families through emergency messages, and pre-deployment briefings. Plus, we expanded our work with Veterans at the Oscar G. Johnson Hospital and Outreach Clinics in Iron Mountain, MI and the King Facility in Waupaca, WI. This includes the distribution of over 5,000 personal greeting cards through our Holiday Mail for Heroes program.   

Our health & safety training spans from youth to senior education. With more than 45,000 trained annually in life-saving skills, we have saved countless lives. A few hours in a classroom or on-line could mean the difference between life and death. We urge you to make a New Years resolution to be Red Cross Ready in the coming months.

Every two seconds someone in the USA needs the gift of life. In Northeast WI, Red Cross volunteers donated over 38,000 units of blood in 2010; selflessly giving so much to someone they may never know. We’re proud to provide nearly half the nation’s blood supply.

The American Red Cross is a dynamic organization that has served the country since 1881. Today, each of our volunteers has their own story and reason for giving back. It’s our honor to call them our partners and brand ambassadors. Together, we roll up our sleeves, open our hearts and jump-in to change lives.

Seasons Greetings!

Steve Hansen

 P.S. A comprehensive Northeast WI Regional Report to the Community is available at www.newredcross.org. It contains additional details, stories, photos and more.