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Illuminating storm safety

Colorful lightning bolts in an evening sky Despite the beautiful colors it casts into the sky, lightning brings with it dangerous risks to personal safety. The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that approximately 25 million lightning bolts make contact with the Earth each year. A lightning strike can cause serious or even fatal injuries. To avoid these risks, always keep an eye on weather forecasts and make backup plans in case of an unexpected storm.

Lightning can strike 10 miles from where it is raining. Research collected from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to NWS, in 2016 there were 38 deaths from lightning in the U.S. Many injuries also occurred. In August 2016, WABC reported that five individuals sustained serious injuries in a New York park when lightning struck the metallic bench they were sitting on. The individuals sitting on it sustained an electric shock.

Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining. Preparation is important to safety. Listen to, watch, or download an app on a handheld device that provides weather forecasts so that you know if there is a chance of severe weather. If there is a chance, reschedule the activity or make sure you can get to a safe location if a thunderstorm develops.

Wait 30 minutes after thunder and lightning to go outdoors. Safe shelters are in fully enclosed buildings or in a fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle. Open vehicles, such as convertibles, motorcycles, and golf carts, are not safe. Open structures—such as porches, gazebos, pavilions, and baseball dugouts—are not safe either. Stay in a safe shelter for at least 30 minutes after you last hear thunder.

Before a thunderstorm, turn off or unplug corded appliances and stay away from television sets. Also, turn off your air conditioner to help protect the compressor from a potential power surge and costly repairs from the storm.

During the thunderstorm, do not lie on concrete floors, and avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and care for the victim immediately. You are not in danger of being shocked or electrocuted by the victim.

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