Many people take lightning for granted and do not follow basic safety precautions when lighting is in the area. If you are outdoors, such as hiking or camping with your family, you need to know that the weather can change quickly and drastically. The following are some tips that you can implement in lightning safety for you and your family.
Count yourself to safety~A good guideline is to count the seconds between the lightning strike and the thunder sound. If you count 30 seconds or less it’s time to take cover in a safe area. Each second represents approximately 300 feet, so you can judge how close the lightning is striking compared to where you are. This is an excellent lightning safety tip to teach your children as they may be out playing without you or at a friends house and you want them to know when to take cover and what to do to stay safe.
Avoid metallic objects, open spaces, high ground, and water~These few tips can save your life and must be the first thing you check for if you are caught out in a storm with lightning. Metallic objects are conductors for electricity and you want to make sure you and your family are not near any such items. Some specific things to think about are the umbrella your carrying, a fishing pole or the metal cleats on the bottom of your shoes if you’re playing sports. High ground takes you closer to the lightning and makes you a clear target so take cover in lower lying areas such as a ditch, bottom of a hill etc. Never seek shelter under a tree, instead get into your car and roll up all the windows.You are safe in your car but must make sure you’re not parked under a tree, close to a telephone pole or other large object. The best thing to do is take shelter inside a building if you can and once inside stay away from any metal objects nd windows.
If you are not close to a shelter, get into the lightning safety position~Find the lowest place in your surroundings, then squat low with your heels touching and your hands over your ears. This position makes you a smaller target for the lightning, which is exactly what you want. Also, if the lightning hits the ground near you, the electric current of the lightning will pass through one foot, to the heel then transfer to the other heel and foot and then back into the ground again. This approach can prevent the lightning from getting conducted through the rest of your body. Practice this position with your family before leaving for the hiking or camping trip because it can be difficult to balance on the ground in the “lightning crouch”. Make it fun to practice and everyone will know what to do!
Do not go outside the building or car until 30 minutes after the last lightning bolt~Never assume that because the rain has subsided that the lightning is over as well. Lightning can strike even after the rain, so wait until the weather has cleared up completely before going back outside. Thirty minutes is the ideal time.
It is safe to touch someone who has been struck by lightning?~The human body is a conductor of electricity, so there is no current that remains in the body after someone has been struck. Move the person into a shelter to protect them from more danger and then either call or send for help immediately. If the person is not breathing at the time, perform CPR.
Tips if you are indoors~As soon as you can, unplug all electronics in your home. It is important to stay away from windows and door sand do not go outside unless you must. During the storm it is important to make sure no one in the family uses an electrical device or a telephone, the only safe devices are ones that are battery operated.
Educate your family about the dangers of lightning and practice basic safety tips~Now that you have this information, teach every member about the lightning crouch, the safest shelter to go to if you’re outdoors, indoor lightning safety tips and what to do if someone has been struck by lightning.