summer storm safety

Survive a Thunderstorm!

It’s not true what they say: Lightning can strike twice. But usually once is more than enough.

By Leah Zerbe and Dana Blinder

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Planning an outdoor event can be a challenge; decisions on location, best picnic menu, or favorite water and pool toys can make or break the experience. However, so can a storm. As we enter the peak season for lightning, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sponsoring Lightning Safety Week in an effort to educate and prevent lightning-related injuries.

THE DETAILS: Every year, about 400 people are struck by lightning in this country. Although just 10 percent die at the time of the strike—so far in 2010, 24 people have been killed by lightning in the U.S—survivors can suffer lifetime neurological disabilities. Scientists predict we’ll be seeing stronger, more intense storms in the coming years as a result of global warming, so it’s more important than ever to know what to do if you get stuck in a storm.

WHAT IT MEANS: In the summertime, the likelihood that we’ll be spending time outdoors combines with the increased frequency of storms to raise the risk of lightning-related injuries to its peak: More than 70 percent of lightning fatalities occur between June and August.

Here are some important strategies for staying safe in a storm:

• Seek shelter. The safest place to be when lightning strikes is indoors. “Look for a large permanent structure or fully enclosed metal vehicle,” says Richard Kithil Jr., founder and CEO of the National Lightning Safety Institute. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents, or covered porches won’t protect you. It takes a structure with a solid roof, as well as plumbing or wiring, which will direct the electricity into the ground in the event of a strike.

• Let your ears alert you. Even if you don’t see lightning in your immediate area, hearing thunder should be a cue to hightail it into a house or other safe structure. The sound of thunder means that lightning, while it may not be striking, is immediately close. In some cases, lightning can strike even if there are no visible clouds directly overhead. Teach your kids that good old National Weather Service saying, “When thunder roars, get indoors.” When inside, wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before going outside again.


Published on: June 23, 2009

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Climate comment is appropriate

One prediction of climate change is an increase in extreme weather systems. It is completely appropriate to point this out--it has a direct bearing on the number and strength of storms.

The flooding in Pakistan is another probable consequence. People with open minds might be interested in reading this, from Scientific American:

Is the Flooding in Pakistan a Climate Change Disaster?

Good article

Good article on lightning safety tips. Please leave out the "global warming" tripe, next time.


Global Warming

Good catch, Mitch. The article claims to be about lightning and then just has to get into political hogwash about global warming. I don't care if santa's snowmaking machine or the tooth fairies wings are causing the lightning, I just was looking for some advice on keeping safe, since we camp and picnic often. Shame on you Rodale, for not looking into the REAL science supported by true meteorologists, not weathermen wannabes, who don't know the sceince and truly cannot back up their claims -- the earth has been cooling for the last ten years, as it was doing in the 70s. Long-term cyclical weather patterns, sort of like the shorter-term seasons are part of the cause, change in weather station locations, environs and reading irregularities are others. So, we don't even really know how much variance there has truly been.


After that comment,I can't believe I left the "o" out of avoiding! Blush, blush! Retributive justice?
Lightning storms in the NE tomorrow!
I'll follow Rodale's advice!
Thanks again!

Get the "e" out!

GREAT ARTICLE, Rodale! Thanks! You really keep us thinking about the Good Earth! Tips on aviding "LIGHTNING" strikes were great
and we should teach our kids those safety rules!
Those were the important points of the article!On to the trivia:
Spelling mistakes bother me, too, Karen!
Always encouraging that some people still know how to spell and define, as well as know enough to get inside when there's a storm!
"Except" maybe Mitch, who can't "accept" gobal warming!
Keep cool, Mitch! :o)

Except Global Warming

is NOT supported by the data collected by weather and climate organizations for over a hundred years.

Shame on you for facilitating a political sham.


Karen took you guys to school!!!


Lightning does NOT have an 'e' in it. Sorry, pet peeve, but lightening means to make something lighter in color or in brightness - or it means you're preparing to give birth. The weather phenomenon is spelled LIGHTNING (so is the marvelous one-design class sailboat). No 'e'

Lightening Safety

We live in an area of Pennsylvania with lots of rolling hills and open fields with trees. From our home we can often see lightening strike the ground and rooftops all around the house during a storm. I've noticed that over the last two or three years the storms have gotten much more severe and occur more often. The hardest part for me is trying to convince others that it's not safe to be out and about during one. We often have outdoor events planned that everyone else still insists on attending even though the local weather channel is sounding an advisory to "immediately seek shelter." No one seems to pay attention until someone is seriously injured or killed. We forget all too easily too. Just two years ago a major storm rolled through and killed two people in the town just beside us. One was struck by a wind blown tree limb while driving through the storm, and the other was struck by lightening only feet away from her home outside.


My Dad was struck with lightening on the golf course back in 1976. He had 3rd degree burns, 2 slipped discs, damaged some nerve endings in his feet and lost the hearing in one ear. The lightening struck in his foot and came out his head. He fell on an other man who took part of the voltage or he would not have survived. He is 83 years old and really has very few problems now related to the strike. Amazing.

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