We recently read a story about a woman in Monmouth County leaving the beach as a thunderstorm was approaching. While walking on the beach toward her car, and carrying a large metal beach chair, she took a direct lightning hit and died.
There are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in the United States each year. While local radio stations issue severe thunderstorm watches and warnings for storms that produced damaging winds and hail, watches and warnings are not issued for lightning. When you hear thunder, there is an immediate lightning danger.
If you are outside and hear thunder, the only way to reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty is to get inside a substantial building or hard top metal vehicle as fast as you can.
In addition, you should avoid the following situations which could increase your risk of being struck. Remember, there is no substitute for getting to a safe place!
Some other items to consider:
- Avoid open areas. Don't be the tallest object in the area if a storm is approaching.
- Stay away from isolated tall trees powers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the polar objects in an area.
- Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or fences. Metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can travel long distances through it.
If someone is struck by lightning:
- Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need immediate medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the normal immediate result for those struck by lightning. Many deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately
- Immediately call 9-1-1
- Render first Aid. Do not delay in administering CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing.
- If it all possible, move the victim to a safer place. Lightning can strike twice in the same location.
Last but not least, if you're outdoors where there is a threat of a thunderstorm, stay connected by radio to either a local weather channel or the National Weather Service.