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

Safety for the Holidays

With all the holiday errands and festivities, don’t forget to bring home safety for the holidays. Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Review these tips so you don’t forget to make safety a priority for enjoying the holiday season.

Preparedness Tips

  • Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
  • Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over.  Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
  • Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.
  • Smoke alarms save lives.  Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed.  Use the test button to check it each month.  Replace all batteries at least once a year.
  • Visit http://www.redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to keep your home fire safe during the holidays.