FAST FACTS: Staying Safe During A Lightning Storm
(CBS4) — South Florida is in the midst of the summer storm season and that means plenty of lightning. So here are the basics of staying safe during a lightning storm, on land and on the water.
First off all, no place is absolutely safe from lightning, according to the National Weather Service website, but some places are much safer than others.
The SAFEST location during lightning activity is a large enclosed building, not a picnic shelter or shed. The second safest location is an enclosed metal vehicle, car, truck, van, etc., but NOT a convertible, bike or other topless or soft top vehicle.
*A safe building is defined as fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor. Picnic shelters, dugouts, sheds and other partially open or small structures are NOT safe.
*While enclosed buildings are safe, electrical current from a lightning strike can travel through the wiring or plumbing, which is why you should stay away from showers, sinks, hot tubs and electronic equipment such as computers, radios, TV’s and stay off the telephone.
*Lightning can damage or destroy electronics so it’s important to have a proper surge protectors connected to your electronic equipment.
*Stay off wet patios or driveways. Electrical voltage can often travel through steel support rods built into concrete floors or walls. In fact, lightning can travel 10 miles or more by land after it strikes.
*Unsafe buildings are defined as car ports, covered by open garages, covered patio, picnic shelters, beach shacks/pavilions, golf shelters, camping tents, large outdoor tents, baseball dugouts and other small buildings such as sheds and greenhouses that do not have electricity or plumbing.
*A safe vehicle is a hard-topped car, SUV, minivan, bus, tractor, etc. (soft-topped convertibles are not safe). If you seek shelter in your vehicle, make sure all doors are closed and windows rolled up. Do not touch any metal surfaces.
*If you’re driving when a thunderstorm starts, pull off the roadway. A lightning flash hitting the vehicle could startle you and cause temporary blindness, especially at night.
*Do not use electronic devices such as HAM radios during a thunderstorm.
Being stranded outdoors can be a scary and terrifying experience. While there is no safe place to be outside in a lightning storm, there are last resort choices to go that’ll lessen the odds of getting struck by lightning.
PROTECT YOURSELF ON A BICYCLE, MOTORCYCLE OR DIRT BIKE
*Carry a portable weather radio or listen to commercial radio.
*If you see threatening skies in the distance, seek shelter in a safe location and wait 30 minutes after the last thunder crack.
*If you can turn around and get away from the storm, do so.
*DO NOT ride into a lightning storm.
*Do NOT seek shelter under tall isolated trees. The tree may help you stay dry but it will significantly increase your risk of being struck by lightning.
*Wait out the storm below an overpass. DO NOT touch steel girders.
*If you are caught in the open during a lightning storm, STOP riding, find a ditch or other low spot and sit down.
*Motorcyclists should move at least 50 feet away from their bike. Bicyclists should lay their bikes on the ground.
IMPORTANT: These recommendations are a last resort. You are NOT safe in these places just marginally safer than in the open.
PROTECT YOURSELF ON THE WATER
*The majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. Small vessels without a cabin should NOT go out on the water when the skies are threatening.
*If you’re on a small boat and lightning becomes a threat, properly anchor the boat and get as low as possible.
*Boats with cabins offer a safer but not perfect environment. Safety is increased further if the boat has a properly installed lightning protection system.
*If you are inside the cabin, stay away from metal and all electrical components.
*Stay off the radio unless it is an absolute emergency.
PROTECT YOURSELF WHILE SCUBA DIVING
*If the boat you are in does not have a safe cabin to be in during lightning activity, then you are safer diving deep into the water for the duration of the storm or as long as possible. Your first choice is to head in and get in safe building or vehicle.
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