Don’t be shocked

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer heat and high humidity brings thunderstorms, and thunderstorms bring rain along with lightning. While it can be beautiful to look at, lightning is one of the most dangerous things associated with the summertime outside of the extreme heat.

On average, 62 people are killed each year in the U.S. by lightning strikes. That is the same average for the number of people killed in tornadoes, but lightning gets less attention because it doesn’t cause the amount of property damage that tornadoes cause.

Lightning is always an underrated risk. So to lessen that risk, here are a few tips provided by the National Weather Service to help prevent injury or death from lightning:

Watch for developing thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on spring or summer days but can occur year round. As the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer air start to rise and cumulus clouds form.

Seek shelter from an approaching thunderstorm. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That’s about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, seek safe shelter immediately.

Where organized outdoor sports activities take place, coaches, camp counselors and other adults must stop activities at the first roar of thunder to ensure everyone time to get to a large building or enclosed vehicle. Leaders of outdoor events should have a written plan that all staff are aware of and enforce.

Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.

Stay away from pools (indoor or outdoor), tubs, showers and other plumbing.

When inside, wait 30 minutes after the last strike before going out again.

If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike. You are in no danger helping a lightning victim. The charge will not affect you.