Summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena: lightning.
Though lightning strikes peak in summer, people are struck year round. In the United States, an average of 51 people are killed each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.
Often, these injuries and deaths are due to misinformation around the seriousness of thunderstorms and lightning. Lightning Awareness Week exists to help bring these issues to light and to ultimately help save lives.
Here are some life-saving resources, courtesy of the National Weather Service:
- What You Need to Know: Tips for Safety
- Indoor Safety
- Outdoor Risk Reduction
- Lightning Safety and Outdoor Sports Activities
- Lightning Safety on the Job
- Lightning and Fires
- Lightning Rods
- Lightning Safety and Your Home
Toolkits and More Free Stuff
- Toolkit for Lifeguards
- Toolkit for Stadiums and Large Venues, pdf and doc
- Toolkit for Counties and Communities
- Brochures, Guides, Multimedia and more
Myth Vs. Fact on Lightning
Myth: If it is not raining, then there is no danger from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. This is especially true in the western United States where thunderstorms sometimes produce very little rain.
Myth: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.
Fact: Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
Myth: “Heat lightning” occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Fact: “Heat lightning” is a term used to describe lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for the thunder to be heard.
Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.
Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.
Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR! Call 9-1-1 and begin CPR immediately if the person has stopped breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information on CPR and first aid classes.
Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!