Summertime Lightning Safety
We think it’s fair to say that we are deep into Summer here in Maine… and we know what that means… severe weather can pop up in an instant.
On those humid days, nasty thunder and lightning can pound the mid-coast area.
Summertime is short in Maine, so we can’t let lightning storms prevent any of our outdoor activities… but we still need to be safe.
Let’s face it, lightning is one of the most serious weather concerns that people face on a daily basis, it doesn’t necessarily need to be summertime.
However, most people do not realize the danger that lightning poses--whether they are indoors or outdoors. If you want to stay safe when lightning may strike, consider the following safety tips.
Thunderstorms and Lighting
It is a little known fact that all thunderstorms produce lightning, even if you don't see any visible lightning flashes.
This is why it is essential to act swiftly whenever any thunderstorms are in the area.
Lightning can even occur when a thunderstorm isn't in the immediate vicinity; in fact, a significant amount of lightning strikes happen away from areas of heavy rain and can strike as far as 10 miles away from any current rainfall.
If you hear thunder, take shelter immediately inside a building or in a hard-topped vehicle. Do not come back outside until at least 30 minutes after the thunderstorm is completely over.
Many people are injured or killed because they mistakenly believe it is safe to be outside as soon as the storm has passed.
Injuries & Fatalities From Lightning
In the United States, around 300 people every year are struck by lightning. Of these 300 people, around 50 of them are killed.
However, fatalities are not the only concern when it comes to lightning strikes: most people struck by lightning suffer lifelong injuries, including serious pain, depression, neurological disabilities, hearing loss and other medical concerns.
These statistics highlight the need to take lightning safety seriously.
What To Do When Thunderstorms Roll In
When you are outside and you hear the sound of thunder--even if you don't see storm clouds or the storm is not yet in your area--is to start thinking about your safety.
Here are some tips to help:
- Take shelter inside a building or a hard-topped vehicle. Tents, covered porches, and sheds cannot protect you from lightning; head inside a building that is fully enclosed.
- Avoid being in an open area and avoid being the tallest object in an area, which increases your chances of being struck by lightning.
- Avoid being near any isolated tall objects, such as isolated tall trees, utility poles or towers.
- Avoid touching or standing by anything metal, such as metal wires or fences; lightning can travel through metal as a conductor and you could be shocked.
Outdoor Lightning Safety Tips
Unfortunately, it is sometimes not always possible to find indoor shelter before a thunderstorm arrives. In these cases, these outdoor lightning safety tips can reduce your chances of being struck.
- Stay low and avoid high elevation, which means hiking down from hills, peaks or mountain ridges; ideally, look for low-lying areas such as valleys and ditches
- Avoid isolated trees, poles, ladders and other tall objects; standing under trees is the second leading cause of deaths from lightning strike
- Avoid taking shelter under cliffs or any rocky overhangs, which could be struck by lighting and fall
- Get out of rivers, lakes, ponds or any bodies of water and get away from them
- Do not lie down on the ground. This exposes you to ground currents and increases your risk of death or injury
- If you can, get inside a hard-topped vehicle, this will provide you more protection than being completely exposed outside
Indoor Lightning Safety Tips
The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is indoors.
However, there are still some common sense lightning safety tips you should practice in order to avoid injury.
Here are some safety tips to consider when you're indoors during a storm.
- Do not use or come into contact with plumbing, such as faucets, bathtubs or sinks; this includes taking baths and showers
- Stay off any corded phones, computers, or any electronic equipment that puts you into direct contact with electricity; this includes laptops and computers that are connected via cables to the internet
- Avoid being near windows and doors. It’s not safe on the porch, even a covered porch
The '30 minute' rule we mentioned earlier applies indoors as well.
You should wait at least 30 minutes until the thunderstorm is completely over to use electronic equipment, plumbing, or get near windows and doors.
Besides the obvious personal injuries that can happen during these storms, lightning strikes can also cause significant property damage.
Property damage can range from fires to shock-wave damage. Power surges caused by lightning strikes can fry electronics inside your home or business.
Ideally, you will not suffer any effects of the thunderstorms that are certainly going to roll through the mid-coast area. If you do your best to avoid being caught outside and if you are, by following proven safety precautions… you can have a safe Summer.
Remember, if you need help to recover from the effects of lightning, you can reach us at 207-338-1850.