Weather Safety: Dealing with Lightning - WNEM TV 5

Weather Safety: Dealing with Lightning

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"When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" -- photo courtesy of NOAA. "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" -- photo courtesy of NOAA.
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Lightning is one of the most devastating weather phenomena's that can be experienced. With proper knowledge and safety practices you can protect yourself, family and property.

Each year an average of 54 people are killed by lightning strikes and many more injured. Though the summer poses the greatest for thunderstorm activity, lightning can strike at any time of the year.

Thunderstorms are aggressive weather events that involve a lot of atmospheric instability. Rising air in these storms cause a strong negative charge to develop and intensify. Once the charge is strong enough between the cloud and positively charged ground, a connection is made in the form of lightning.

The initial strike can reach heats as high as 30,000 degrees. The rapid heating of the air around the lightning cause the loud thunder that often follows.

When you hear thunder it is important to react accordingly. Follow these tips to keep yourself and loved ones safe:

- "When thunder roars, go indoors." You want to immediately seek an enclosed shelter and avoid any plumping, doors, or corded electronic devices.

- Stop all outdoor activities. Many people can suffer a lightning strike by using metal golf clubs, fishing rods, work tools and tennis rackets.

- Avoid all open spaces and isolated trees. Lightning often looks for the closest point of contact to the ground. If you find yourself in an open field it is smart to assume the catchers position and get as low as possible

- Get out of the water. If on the beach or in a public pool you will want to get out of the water immediately. If caught on a boat it is best to crouch down in the middle away from all metal objects.

- Wait. Finally, you want to wait at least 20 minutes after hearing thunder before you continue any outdoor activities. Lighting can still be a threat even where it is not raining.

For more lightning safety, visit the National Weather Services' lightning safety page: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/

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