Lightning: Protect Your Home and Family
Lightning Safety Awareness
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
Severe weather is a common occurrence in Florida. It’s not uncommon to see strong thunderstorms with gusty winds and frequent lightning during the summer months. While these may be a common occurrence, residents should bear in mind some important tips when severe weather threatens our area.
- All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous.
(Lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes.)
- Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
(Many deaths from lightning occur ahead of the storm because people try to wait to the last minute before seeking shelter.)
- You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder.
(If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough that it could strike your location at any moment.)
- Lightning injuries can lead to permanent disabilities or death.
(On average, 20 percent of strike victims die; 70 percent of survivors suffer serious long-term effects.)
Lightning Quick Facts:
- 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States each year.
- The air within a lightning strike can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightning can heat its path five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
- One ground lightning stroke can generate between 100 million and 1 billion volts of electricity.
If a severe storm threatens our area you should take the following steps:
- While nothing offers absolute safety from lightning, some actions can greatly reduce your risks. If a storm is approaching, avoid being in, or near, high places, open fields, isolated trees, unprotected gazebos, rain or picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, communications towers, flagpoles, light poles, bleachers (metal or wood), metal fences, convertibles, golf carts and water. If you are inside your home or vehicle, stay there.
- High winds, rainfall, and a darkening cloud cover are the warning signs for possible cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. While many lightning casualties happen at the beginning of an approaching storm, more than 50 percent of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has passed. The lightning threat diminishes after the last sound of thunder, but may persist for more than 30 minutes. When thunderstorms are in the area, but not overhead, the lightning threat can exist when skies are clear.
- Monitor local television, radio, and NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for storm information.
For more information about severe storms, visit NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at
http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/ or the National Severe Storms Laboratory at http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/.