PRINCETON – Sitting out on the porch watching the storm roll in can be a summertime delight for some, but people should keep in mind the dangers and damages lightning can cause within seconds.
Kris Donarski of the Bureau County Emergency Services and Disaster Administration (ESDA) said many people express their fears of tornadoes and hurricanes, but each year more people are injured or killed by lightning than any other severe types of weather.
“It’s really important to remember when the thunder roars, go indoors,” she said.
Donarski reminded lightning can strike up to 10 miles from a thunderstorm. She said often times, when people hear the storm rumbling from a distance, they believe it’s safe to finish whatever they’ll doing before the rain comes in and forget they are still at risk of getting struck.
“The storm doesn’t have to be overhead to be at risk of getting hit by lightning,” she said.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), lightning injures an average of 300 people and causes about 80 fatalities each year. People struck by lightning can suffer permanent injuries or long-term symptoms including memory loss, sleep disorders, chronic pain, numbness, dizziness, irritability, weakness, fatigue, depression and others.
Lori Compton of Bureau County Red Cross urges families to review basic lightning safety tips to keep their families safe, especially with the recent severe weather and storms the county has experienced.
If caught out in a storm, take shelter inside the nearest building. Donarski reminded that in a garage with the door up is not considered a safe shelter.
According to a press release issued by the American Red Cross, it’s important to clear everyone out of the water when swimming at the first sound of thunder or first sight of lightning. The National Lightning Safety Institute recommends waiting 30 minutes after the last lightning sighting or sounds of thunder before resuming activities.
If someone is struck by lightning, check for burns and other injuries. If a person has stopped breathing, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR.
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Lightning safety tips
• Look out for darkening skies, flashes of light or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
• If thunder is near, a person is close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Get to a safe shelter immediately.
• Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for the latest weather forecasts.
• Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances.
• Avoid having to run water in the home or taking a bath or shower.
• Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
• Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into the home.
• If caught outside during a thunderstorm and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.
Source: American Red Cross