It’s National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. It’s good timing because July is the month with the most cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), four people have been killed by lightning so far this year. On average, 43 people died of lightning strikes each year over a 10-year period. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability. Your odds of being struck in a given year are about 1/1,222,000. Your odds of being struck in your lifetime if you live to be 80 are about 1/15,300.
From 2006 through 2019, 418 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States.
2/3 of the deaths occurred to people engaged in outdoor leisure activities
Males accounted for 79% of all fatalities
Fishermen accounted for four times as many fatalities as golfers
Beach activities and camping each accounted for about twice as many deaths as golf
Of work-related activities, farming was most dangerous
Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Florida are the top four states with the highest recorded number of lightning strikes
Florida ranks first in lightning strike fatalities
1/3 of all lightning related injuries occur indoors
Lightning can have a range of up to 10 miles from the thunderstorm. It’s important to go inside at first sign of an approaching storm and to say inside up to 30 minutes after a storm has passed
NWS offers these tips about what you need to know to stay safe outdoors:
NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips – If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
Never lie flat on the ground
Never shelter under an isolated tree
Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
For many years, the advice was to assume a crouch position if caught outside, but NWS stopped recommending the crouch in 2008 because it simply doesn’t provide significant protection
Indoor Lightning Safety
Some victims were struck inside homes or buildings while they were using electrical equipment or corded phones. Others were in contact with plumbing, outside doors, or window frames. Avoid contact with these electrical conductors when a thunderstorm.
Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Lightning protection systems intercept lightning strikes and provide grounding path for dangerous electricity to discharge safely, leaving occupants and homes safe from harm
Panel box surge protective devices (SPDs) serve as the first line of defense against harmful home electrical surges, limiting voltages by diverting currents at the electrical service entrance. Only qualified electricians should install SPDs
Point of use surge protectors protect electronics plugged into the device from surges, must be replaced over time or after a major surge event
Power strips do not provide surge protection
No surge device can handle a direct lightning strike. Unplug sensitive electronics well before a storm to prevent damage
When the thunder roars and the lightning crackles, there’s a primal satisfaction in being snug and dry beneath a stout roof surrounded by sturdy walls. And that’s just as true for your pets as it is for you and the rest of your family.
To keep your pets safe, keep them inside during bad weather. If you keep animals in a shed, barn or doghouse, make sure your outbuildings are structurally sound and properly grounded. A doghouse isn’t safe in a lightning strike – it’s best to move Rover inside. Cats left outside will often shelter in parked cars or beneath trees, both dangerous options during a lightning storm.
Some dogs and even some cats suffer from thunderstorm phobias. They’re extremely fearful of the stimuli caused by thunderstorms: lightning, thunder, strong winds, and even changes in barometric pressure. If your pet regularly freaks out when it’s bad out (by pacing, drooling, peeing or pooping inappropriately, hiding, or excessive vocalizing or destructive behavior), consult your veterinarian. There are different ways to treat thunderstorm phobia, from behavior modification to medication. It’s important not to reinforce bad behavior: during storms, don’t attempt to punish your pet’s behavior, nor should you try to comfort your pet (this is a hard one to resist).
Keeping your pets calm and dry when the weather is wet and wild isn’t just common sense. It’s as good for you as it is for them – the more stress you can address, the happier you and your fuzzy buddy will be.
This week is Lightning Strike Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Weather Service to raise awareness about lightning hazards and to remind us about personal safety. Lightning kills an average of 47 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured.
While the chances of being struck by lightning are pretty rare, particularly if you heed expert advice during electrical storms, the chances of damage to your home or property are much more common. The Insurance Information Institute (III) just issued an updated report on homeowners insurance claims from lightning strikes and electrical surges in the United States. The bad news is that the number if incidents rose by almost 10% in 2016 to 109,049 claims, but the good news is that the average cost of a claim that insurers paid dropped by almost 5% – to an average of claim cost of $7,571.90. III says that more than half the claims were related to electrical surge damaging components or wiring, while power surges from transformer or service line shorts were also contributing factors.
Does your homeowners insurance cover a lightning strike? III says that:
Damage caused by lightning, such as a fire, is covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. Some policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike, which can cause severe damage to appliances, electronics, computers and equipment, phone systems, electrical fixtures and the electrical foundation of a home.
Report all claims immediately to your insurer. For advance planning, check with your independent insurance agent to learn what your homeowners policy does and doesn’t cover.
Home Lightning Protection
See the III infographic we included in this post and their article on Lightning Coverage and Safety for information on home lightning protection systems, as well as “do’s and don’ts” for general lightning safety. Lightning protection systems are designed to protect your home by “providing a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt.” But in purchasing a lightning protection system, it’s important to find a licensed and certified installer. Shoddy systems that don’t comply with national standards can be dangerous – see this consumer alert that depicts that dangers of shoddy systems.
In honor of Lightning Strike Awareness Week, we bring you some survivor stories. What’s your chance of being struck by lightning? Well, in any given storm, about 1 in 750,000; but over the course of a lifetime, about 1 in 6,250. If worse comes to worst, you will probably survive – about 9 out of every 10 people who are struck by lightning survive to tell the tale, but many are plagued with a variety of medical problems and disabling conditions over a lifetime.
In these clips, people talk about what the experience was like and discuss some of the after effects.
Being stuck by lightning does not make you immune – this poor man was struck by lightning 6 times!
June 19 to June 25 is Lightning Safety Week. It’s good timing because we are approaching the heaviest lightning season. Hopefully, we’ve already had our fill of extreme weather this year, but there are no guarantees. In an average year, there are 57 fatal lightning strikes, most occurring in June, July and August. There have been 4 lightning fatalities so far this year – three of them occurring during agricultural work and one related to tornado search-and-rescue. The National Weather Service keeps track of lightning fatalities for the current year, as well as for prior years going back to 1959. Last year, there were 29 fatalities, a remarkably low year. The top 5 states for lightning fatalities over the past 10 years are Florida (62), Colorado (26), Texas (24), Georgia (19), and North Carolina (18).
Not everyone who is struck by lightning is killed – many survive to tell the tale. You can read some harowing stories of lightning strike survivors – there’s even a support group: Lightning Strike & Electric Shock Survivors.
Your odds of being hit by lightning are about 1 in 700,000 – but experts all agree that you should take care not to make yourself a target. For a little motivation, you might visit Human Voltage, a page that NASA compiled to document what happens when people and lightning converge.
The National Weather Service has 5 simple words of safety advice: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!. We’re reprinting Here is their safety advice:
“There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.
The best way to protect yourself from lightning is to avoid the threat. You simply don’t want to be caught outside in a storm. Have a lightning safety plan, and cancel or postpone activities early if thunderstorms are expected. Monitor weather conditions and get to a safe place before the weather becomes threatening. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options. Rain shelters, small sheds, and open vehicles are not safe.
When inside, do not touch anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet, plumbing, and corded phones. Cell phones and cordless phones are safe. Also, keep away from outside doors and windows and do not lie on a garage floor.
Lightning Victims: If someone is struck by lightning, they may need immediate medical attention. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch. Call 911 and monitor the victim. Start CPR or use an Automated External Defibrillator if needed.”