As the leading cause of weather-related personal injuries, lightning claims the lives of 100 people each year and injures another 300 across the nation. Lightning is electricity in the air, and it can jump from cloud to cloud, or from a cloud to the ground. A lightning bolt is fast, traveling 300 miles-per-second. It can have up to 50 million volts of electricity, which would be enough to serve about 13,000 average-sized homes.
Here are some easy-to-remember precautionary tips to keep in mind to prevent lightning from crossing your path:
- When lightning occurs, get inside a building or a fully enclosed vehicle. Keep away from windows and open doors. If you are caught outdoors, go to low ground and crouch down. If you are in a group, stay several yards apart from each other.
- Avoid standing near water, tall objects (such as trees or poles) and metal objects. Electrical current can easily travel through them and then to you.
- Stay out of the water. Never go swimming or boating during a storm. Electricity flows easily through water and also through you if you are in it.
- During severe storms, refrain from using electrical appliances or the telephone. Lightning can strike outside and follow the wires into your home. Also, protect with surge suppressors and unplug your computer and other sensitive electrical equipment to avoid damage caused by lightning surges.
- Avoid the shower, sink and bathtub. Lightning surges also can occur inside your home by traveling through your plumbing.
- Keep away from fallen power lines and treat them all as if they were energized and dangerous. If you are in an automobile that is hit by fallen wires, do not leave the vehicle. If you must leave because of a life-threatening situation, use extreme caution. Jump out and off with both feet at the same time so you are completely clear of the vehicle before you touch the ground. Never touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
- Sign up as soon as possible for a first aid/CPR class. Check with your local hospital's community education department or the American Red Cross for availability. Your knowledge could save a life.