Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beware of Lightning: Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Summer started this week, and so did Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 20-26), which is observed annually in June.

Lightning is dangerous and unpredictable, but it is most likely to occur as part of thunderstorms on hot, humid days. If you see lightning or hear thunder, the National Weather Service recommends that you take cover in a safe building that has a roof, walls and a floor, such as a house, school, office building or shopping center. The idea is to take shelter in a structure with plumbing and electrical wiring that will send lightning into the ground if the building is struck.

If no such building is close by when a storm comes up, a car or truck will do. Just make sure it isn't a ragtop convertible (even with the roof up, it's no help) and stay away from the radio, ignition, or anything else inside the car that has an outside connection (such as an antenna).

Also, if you happen to be camping when a thunderstorm begins, your tent may keep you dry but it won't protect you from lightning. Find a piece of low ground sheltered by low-growth trees and stay there until the storm passes.

If you're ever with or near someone who is struck by lightning, go to them immediately and check for injuries (there's no danger in touching someone who has just been struck by lightning). Call 911 or local emergency services for help. Anyone struck by lightning should receive a medical examination even if they don't appear to be seriously injured.

To learn more about lightning and how it compares to other weather hazards, read Why is Lightning Dangerous?

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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