Lighting Safety Week

We all know lightning can harm or even kill us. So how about a refresher course in lightning safety?

A True Lightning Story.

It's May 1973 at John F. Byrne Golf Course in Northeast Philly. Five of my friends and I are playing skins on a spring day at our favorite course. Suddenly, an intense thunderstorm swoops in. When you are 16 years old and fearless (or is it just plain stupid?), you are sure you will never be hit by a bolt of lightning.

Since I am a budding meteorologist to be, I suggest we head for the clubhouse as the skies darken and the heavens begin to grumble. Two friends follow my lead but 3 throw caution to the wind.

As we reach the clubhouse, the heavens open up. We both breathe a sigh of relief that we are not soaked by the downpour and half chuckle at the gang stuck on the course.

For the next half hour, the rain falls in torrents. Soon our 3 waterlogged friends emerge from the tempest with a tale of a lifetime. All three were hit by lightning and all 3 live to tell about!

With that brief story as a back drop, I offer these practical safety tips from the National Weather Service during National Lightning Safety Week.


SUMMARY OF LIGHTNING SAFETY TIPS FOR INSIDE THE HOME

1. AVOID CONTACT WITH CORDED PHONES
2. AVOID CONTACT WITH ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT OR CORDS. IF YOU PLAN
TO UNPLUG ANY ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT, DO SO WELL BEFORE THE
STORM ARRIVES.
3. AVOID CONTACT WITH PLUMBING. DO NOT WASH YOUR HANDS, DO NOT
TAKE A SHOWER, DO NOT WASH DISHES, AND DO NOT DO LAUNDRY.
4. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS AND DOORS, AND STAY OFF PORCHES.
5. DO NOT LIE ON CONCRETE FLOORS AND DO NOT LEAN AGAINST CONCRETE
WALLS.


LIGHTNING FACT FOR THE DAY: THE AVERAGE FLASH OF LIGHTNING CONTAINS
ENOUGH ELECTRICITY TO LIGHT A 100 WATT LIGHT BULB FOR MORE THAN
3 MONTHS.


LIGHTNING QUESTION OF THE DAY: IS IT SAFE TO TALK ON A CORDLESS PHONE
DURING A THUNDERSTORM.

ANSWER: COMPARED TO TALKING ON STANDARD PHONE (CORDED), THE CORDLESS
PHONE IS MUCH LESS OF A HAZARD. HOWEVER, THERE IS THE RISK OF BEING
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING DURING THE MOMENT OF CONTACT WHEN THE PHONE IS
BEING REMOVED FROM THE CRADLE. IN ADDITION, THE PHONE SHOULD ONLY BE
USED IN A SAFE PLACE; THE PHONE'S ANTENNA PRESENTS AN INCREASED
HAZARD IF USED OUTSIDE, NEAR A WINDOW, OR NEAR ELECTRICAL CONDUCTORS
IN THE HOME.


HERE'S A LIST OF TOPICS THAT WERE COVERED EARLIER THIS WEEK OR WILL
BE COVERED LATER THIS WEEK:

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT LIGHTNING OR LIGHTNING SAFETY, VISIT
NOAA'S LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEB SITE AT:

HTTP://WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV
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