FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – This week is Lightning Safety Awareness week. Now that we have entered the summer season thunderstorms are more likely with the heat and humidity, we typically see this time of year.
Since the inception of this week in 2001 lightning fatalities in the US have dropped from about 50 per year to about 30, that’s according to the National Lightning Safety Council. They believe it’s due to greater awareness of the danger that lightning possess. However, since the first week of May, there have been 4 deaths in the US related to lightning strikes.
Lightning is caused by the difference between positive and negative charges. When enough opposite charge builds up, the air can no longer insulate the charges, resulting in a rapid discharge of electricity. This discharge causes the rapid expansion and contraction of air that we know as thunder.
When it comes to lightning safety the first thing to remember is “when thunder roars, go indoors.”
Find a sturdy building or a vehicle as fast as you can. If you are stuck outdoors, avoid open fields, you don’t want to be the tallest object in the area…lightning tends to strike the taller objects so also avoid shelter near tall trees, towers or utility poles.
Since lightning is electricity you will also want to make sure you are away from any metal fences or wires. Inside of your home you will want to try and avoid using anything that is plugged into the wall, such as corded phones.
Even if you see blue sky above you, lightning can strike 10 to 15 miles away from the storm so if you hear thunder you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
A single lightning bolt can carry up to 1 billion volts and billions of watts of electricity.
That’s why it is incredibly dangerous to be outdoors during a thunderstorm.
Additional lightning safety resources can be found at: https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning