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The Hazards of Lightning

Other than flooding, lightning kills and injures more people than any other natural disaster

We don't often think of the hazards of lightning when the sky is lit up in zigzag patterns during a storm. We may lose electricity or hear the snap, crackle, and pop of a strike, but it never seems to hit "too close to home."

Most of us know to take shelter - not under a tree or out in the open - when a storm hits. But hits can occur - and kill - people inside homes as well. Experts who study the damage from lightning fear it more than tornadoes - simply because there is no warning.

They also state that at the first sight or sounds of lightning is the moment to take action. Get in a car or a building immediately. A lightning strike is also likely to occur if you can count less than 30 seconds between the sound of thunder and the clash of light.

For kids, it's important to teach them the motto from The National Lightning Safety Institute: "If you can hear it, clear it; if you can see it, flee it."

If you are indoors, take these precautions:

Avoid contact with concrete floors and walls.
Do not talk on a land line.
Do not run water.
Unplug and/or avoid electrical appliances.
Remain in the interior of the house or building and away from windows.

If you are outside, do the following:

Among trees, choose one that is shorter than others.
Out in the open, seek a low-lying area such as a ditch (unless flooding is possible).
Squat on the ground, but do not lie flat.
If on a lake or in a swimming pool, leave the water immediately. In a boat, you're the tallest object in the vicinity.

The facts are:

It does not have to be raining in the area for lightning to strike.
Rubberized objects are no protection.
During a ground hit, the electricity effect can be felt as far as 60 feet in any direction.
Metal and graphite attract lightning. They may glow if lightning is about to hit.
If you are near an electrical charge, your scalp will tingle and your hair may feel as if it is "standing on end."

For detailed information on the extreme hazards of lightning and how to protect yourself, visit The National Lightning Safety Institute.




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