June 26, 2012
Lightning Safety Awareness Week
redOrbit Meteorologist Joshua Kelly
The week of June 24-June 30 is noted as “Lightning Safety Week”. So what are some things that you can do when you hear the first crackle of thunder? One of the first things to do is take cover inside a shelter such as a house, garage or even patio. The next thing you can do to help prevent injury is not run for cover under a tree or object outside that can easily be attracted to lightning. A third thing is try to avoid using appliances and electronics that are plugged into the wall during a thunderstorm as lightning is attracted to these types of objects.
There are many types of lightning that spread through the sky during a thunderstorm. The one that is seen in the image above is the most significant one to humans on Earth and that is “Cloud to Ground Lightning” which is when the lighting is released from the cloud and strikes directly towards the Earth´s Surface.
One fact about lightning is that it is warmer than the Sun´s surface, so if it directly makes contact with something it will set it on fire just like that.
Another impact is for people at the beach when an afternoon thunderstorm moves in to the area along the beach. What are some things to do to help prevent injury or at worst death? The most important thing to do is get out of the water fast. If lightning strikes the water it can spread through the water´s surface at extended speeds because water is a very good conductor to lightning. Secondly, get off the beach all together and find the nearest shelter at the beach, or better yet return to your car.
A quote from the National Weather Service is “When thunder roars go indoors”. This quote is a very useful reminder to anyone that is outdoors that the best place to be during a thunderstorm is indoors.
The National Weather Service has stated to date in 2012 4 people have already been killed by lightning. Lightning is a very serious situation. If someone gets struck by lightning and does not die from the strike, they still may find themselves dealing with things such as numbness in their joints, forms of depression, memory loss, and other issues that arise from lightning strikes. So again, this is just a reminder of how important it is to remain indoors during a thunderstorm.
A few facts about lightning from the National Weather Service: A bolt of lightning can expand 5 miles in length and can also contain 100 million volts of electricity. This alone should be enough to make sense that the next time a person hears a thunderstorm they will run and seek shelter fast and not become one of the statistics.
For more preventive information in regards to lightning and how it can impact you or a loved one, make sure to check out the National Weather Service´s website at www.noaa.gov and click on the weather tab.