Stay alert to dangerous weather


“The safest place to go when thunder roars is indoors.”

The National Weather Service is observing Lightning Awareness Safety Week this Saturday, and our state weather offices and local safety officials have taken to social media to keep lightning safety in the conversation. The “thunder roars” quote is a theme of the week, one we’ve seen on Twitter in tweets since Sunday from agencies ranging from the county Department of Emergency Management offices to the National Weather Service offices.

More #LightningSafety tweets this week:

• “Since 1984, 1,500 people have been killed by lightning in the U.S. If U can hear thunder, U are close enough to be struck!” — NWS-Tulsa.

• “Lightning strikes in Arkansas on Monday: Nearly 6,300 lightning strikes in the state from 2-11 p.m.” — NWS-Little Rock.

• “The NWS doesn’t issue warnings for lighting alone, so ‘Use your brain! Don’t wait for rain!’” — NWS-Atlanta.

• “#LightningSafety Awareness week is in the summer as it is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena — lightning.” — NWS-Indianapolis.

“Lightning heats surrounding air to 50,000 deg F. That is 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun!” — NWS-Pittsburgh.

The National Weather Services offers many safety tips on its lightning safety website, www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov. These tips are important for anyone to keep in mind, but especially those in charge of children who are outside this summer camping, swimming, playing baseball and doing other summer things.

Lightning safety tips for those indoors:

• Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.

• Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.

• Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

• Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

The NWS lists these as “last-resort outdoor risk-reduction tips”:

• Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.

• Never lie flat on the ground.

• Never shelter under an isolated tree.

• Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.

• Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.

• Stay away from objects that conduct electricity such as barbed wire fences, power lines and windmills.

So far in 2014, lightning strikes have killed seven people in the United States who were doing normal activities like picking blueberries and riding a motorcycle. All have died in May and June. In the spring and summer, we tend to watch for storms dangerous enough to spawn tornadoes, but lightning can and does strike the same place twice, so let’s be aware and stay safe.