COLUMBUS – As the weather warms, the chances for severe thunderstorms increase across Franklin County. As Ohio recognizes Lightning Awareness Safety Week, June 18-24, FCEM&HS encourages all Franklin County residents to know what to do before, during and after thunderstorms, and reminds everyone to practice severe weather safety and preparedness throughout the summer.
Although the number of lightning fatalities has continued to fall in previous years, lightning strikes continue to be one of the top storm-related killers in the United States. Most lightning victims are struck before or after the storm reaches its greatest intensity. The best way to protect yourself and your family from lightning and the dangers of thunderstorms is to be prepared.
“Many outdoor sports organizations have adopted policies suspending play during thunderstorms,” said Jeffrey J. Young, Director, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security. “Spectators should also be prepared by having a plan and a predetermined location to seek shelter immediately during a storm.”
Residents are reminded that performing a simple measure can drastically reduce the chance of severe injury or death during a storm: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! NWS and FCEM&HS suggest the following lightning safety measures:
PLAN AHEAD – Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on spring or summer days, but can also occur at night and during any season. Be sure to have a weather safety plan, including a predetermined safe location. Sign up for ALERT Franklin County at www.alertfranklincounty.org to receive severe weather alerts automatically. Check the local weather when planning an outdoor activity and again before leaving home. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) with a tone alert that notifies when hazardous weather is in your area.
OUTDOORS – You are not safe anywhere outside in a thunderstorm. Lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from where it is raining. Run to a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning or observe dark, threatening clouds overhead. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. Do not seek shelter under trees!
INDOORS – Move indoors as soon as possible when thunderstorms appear. Once inside stay off corded phones (use cellular or cordless phones instead), and avoid touching electrical equipment, or plumbing. Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches, and do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last rumble of thunder, and continue to monitor the local weather.
PROTECT YOUR PETS – Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or wire runners are particularly vulnerable. Bring your pets inside during thunderstorms.
HELPING SOMEONE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING – If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. A lightning victim does not carry an electrical charge and is safe to touch. Knowing and implementing first aid measures, which include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), can help a person struck by lightning survive. Local American Red Cross chapters and many fire departments offer first aid and CPR classes.
For additional information on lightning safety, visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.