Lightning Safety Week

Did you know that lightning strikes the ground around 25 million times every single year in the United States? Each year, dozens of people are killed and hundreds are injured by lightning.

There are many misconceptions about lightning, some of which actually put us in more danger during storms. In an effort to reduce fatalities and injuries from lightning, Lightning Safety Awareness Week is recognized every year.

Since the whole idea behind safety awareness is education – and there certainly are plenty of commonly believed myths to dispel about lightning – we wanted to take the opportunity to give you the basics on lightning and lightning safety.

As you will see, lightning strikes are relatively unpredictable. They are also very common in Texas. However, we can significantly reduce the chances of being struck by lightning by keeping a few safety tips in mind. By knowing what structures provide the safest shelter, and the areas that are the most dangerous for lightning strikes, we can ensure that we will be as safe as possible during a thunderstorm.

The Dangers of Lightning

  • Lightning kills around 50 people in the United States every year, and hundreds of people are severely injured by lightning.
  • Roughly 10 percent of people struck by lightning are killed.
  • Lightning can strike objects up to 25 miles away from the parent thunderstorm.
  • From 2006 to 2013, over 80 percent of lightning fatalities were male.
  • From 2004 to 2013, Texas had the second highest number of lightning fatalities.
  • Nearly two-thirds of lightning deaths from 2006 to 2013 were among those enjoying leisure activities outdoors.
  • June, July and August see the most lightning activity across the United States.

Myths of Lightning

The National Weather Service dispels many of the common myths surrounding lightning. Here are a few of the myths that they list on their website.

  • Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
  • Myth: Wearing metal or being in the vicinity of metal structures makes you more susceptible to lightning strikes.
  • Myth: Heat lightning is not dangerous.
  • Myth: Victims of lightning strikes are dangerous to touch.
  • Myth: Rubber tires will protect you from being struck by lightning in your vehicle.

Lightning Safety Tips

Obviously, we have little control over how and when lightning strikes. But we certainly have control over we are located when lightning poses a threat.

  • If you hear thunder, go indoors – preferably to a large enclosed structure.
  • Stay indoors until at least 30 minutes after you hear thunder.
  • Stay away from elevated areas and bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity.
  • Roll up the windows if you are inside a vehicle during a thunderstorm.
  • Never use corded phones during a thunderstorm.
  • Avoid touching, lying on or leaning against concrete.

If you or someone you love is struck by lightning, seek immediate medical attention. Even though only a small number of strike victims are actually killed by lightning, victims can still suffer serious and sometimes permanent injuries.

Remember that any time you hear thunder, there is the potential for lightning.