Columbia Shares Summer Lightning Safety Tips

6 years 2 weeks 4 days ago Wednesday, June 25 2014 Jun 25, 2014 Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:26:00 PM CDT June 25, 2014 in News
By: Amanda LaBrot, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Missouri is one of 10 states that has the most lightning-related deaths and injuries, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA.

This week NOAA and the American Red Cross are observing Lightning Awareness Week. Martina Pounds, Captain for Boone County Fire District, said the combination of summer pop-up thunderstorms and more outdoor activities requires people to monitor the weather. 

"As soon as you hear thunder, the storm is 6-10 minutes away," Pounds said. "That's especially important for coaches that have teams out playing ball. That 6-10 minutes is all the time you have to get your team together and you get them to safety."

Pounds also reminds players and coaches that dugouts aren't safe shelters. If you do seek shelter during a thunderstorm, Pounds said to wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to leave the shelter.

Avoid single trees during storms, but if you're caught in an area with lots of trees, Pounds said you might be safer staying there.

"If you're out hiking and you're in a wooded area, then you're going to be in that area," Pounds said. "I mean, it's safer to stay there than going through an open field to try to find a shelter that might be 20 minutes away."

Pounds said there's a common myth that if a person is struck by lightning, they're electrically charged. If you come across a lightning strike victim, she said to call 9-1-1 and bring him or her to a shelter. 

"If somebody got hit by lightning, their heart might stop. So sometimes when you call 9-1-1 and tell them you came upon this lightning strike victim, they may give you CPR instructions. And again there's no danger. You can do chest compressions or whatever you're supposed to do for CPR," Pounds said.

She said livestock gets struck by lightning more often than people.

"When you talk to farmers, they frequently have livestock struck by lightning. They're the most common, especially because they're out in the field without protection," Pounds said. 

The CDC lists both indoor and outdoor safety precautions .

Outdoors:

  • If the forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone trips and activities
  • When thunder roars go indoors. Find an enclosed shelter.
  • If there's no shelter, crouch low with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Electric currents along the top of the ground can be deadly over 100 feet from a lightning strike.
  • Stay away from concrete floors and walls because lightning can travel through metal wires and bars in them

Indoors:

  • Avoid using water because lightning can travel through plumbing
  • Avoid electronic equipment
  • Avoid corded phones
  • Avoid concrete walls and floors

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