Be smart about lightning

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

Here are a few figures from the National Weather Service to show you how dangerous lightning is:

In the United States each year, there are about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

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During the last 30 years, lightning has killed an average of 73 people per year in the United States and has injured 300 more.

Alabama reported 102 lightning deaths between 1959 and 2006, ranking 24th in the nation for the highest mortality rate.

So what can we do?

During a thunderstorm, lightning is a potential killer. It can strike up to 10 miles from the main area of the thunderstorm, meteorologists tell us. That 10 miles is about the distance you can hear thunder from the storm. If you can hear thunder, you are at risk of being struck.

Basically everyone know the visible flash of lightning can strike a person, but the lightning discharge travels along the ground, another way victims are struck.

The greatest number of lightning strikes occur during the summer because people are out and about during the summer. People need to know what activities place them at a greater risk and avoid those during thunderstorms.

But even indoors people should stay away from outside doors and windows and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity.

Say it can’t happen to you? Think again. Learn the safety rules from the National Weather Service.