According to the National Fire Protection Association, lightning causes an average of 24,600 fires each year (including 4,400 house fires), costing about $407 million in damages. In addition, each year lightning is responsible for approximately 55-60 deaths and 400 injuries. A majority of lightning victims were going to a safe place, but waited too long before seeking safe shelter. Lightning fatalities are most common during summer afternoons and evenings.
If you're indoors:
- Stay off corded phones - cellular and cordless phones are safe.
- Don't touch electrical equipment or cords.
- Avoid plumbing - don't do dishes, take a shower or wash your hands.
- Stay away from doors and windows.
- Don't lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
- Bring your dog inside - dog houses are not safe shelters!
- Stay in safe shelter until at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.
If you're outdoors:
- If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall.
- Seek shelter inside a building or vehicle.
- Picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, tents and gazebos are not safe shelters.
- Avoid trees, open fields or the top of hills.
- Stay away from water and wet areas.
- If you can't get indoors, don't be the tallest object in the area. Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers and utility poles.
If your home is struck by lightning:
- Evacuate your home immediately if you see fire or smoke and call 911!
- Call your local fire department and ask them to check for hot spots in your walls.
- Make sure all smoke detectors are powered and operating properly.
If someone is struck by lightning:
- Lightning victims are safe to touch and do not carry an electrical charge.
- Call for help immediately.
- Give first aid. Use CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing.
- Move the victim to a safer place, if possible.
For more information on lightning safety, please refer to http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/.
Have fun but play it safe!