Jill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS
If you have been keeping current with the news as of late, injuries and deaths related to lightning are as common as a summertime thunderstorm. While the odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime may seem relatively low at 1 in 3,000, in 2010-2011, 48% of lightning casualties occurred during organized sports, and 62% of lightning fatalities in 2012 occurred during recreational activities. Just one month ago a dad performed CPR on his eight year old boy after being struck by lightning right here in Wisconsin. Don't become one of the statistics (like the 24 deaths attributed to lightning in 2012). Read on for tips to avoid lightning injuries.
10. Surge protectors used in your home to protect electronic devices from lightning are no help for direct lightning strikes.
9. Avoid washer and dryer use during electrical storms, since they carry a direct metal pathway to the outdoors.
8. Seeking shelter in a bus or car is safe as long as they have a metal top and you are not touching any metal connected to that top.
7. Avoid taking a shower, using sinks, or any other direct access to running water through metal pipes during an electrical storm.
6. If someone is struck by lightning, it is safe to help them right away, as their body does not carry a charge.
5. Using a landline during a lightning storm is the most common contributor to indoor lightning injuries.
4. Know what locations are considered safe havens from lightning storms, and which are not. Avoid parks, press boxes, gazebos, dug-outs, garages, trees, poles, and any elevated areas, as these areas are not effective shelters during an electrical storm.
3. Lightning can travel for up to 10 miles away from a storm, so if you hear thunder, you need to seek shelter immediately.
2. If you are part of an organized sporting event, get everyone on the same page with a clearly communicated lightning safety plan, including officials, coaches, and custodians who may be in charge of unlocking buildings that can serve as safe shelters during storms.
1. Assign a specific staff member to monitor local weather during athletic events, and have an evacuation plan that allows for large numbers of people to seek shelter in a large, indoor facility in time. When thunder is heard or a cloud to ground lightning bolt is identified, suspend play immediately and direct all athletes and spectators to seek shelter immediately. No thunder can be heard or lightning seen within a 30 minute period of time before play can resume.