52 Weeks to Health: Week 24, Lightning Safety

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When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Sources: National Weather Service (www.weather.gov) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov)

Lightning kills over 20 people in the U.S. each year and hundreds more are severely injured. Lightning also causes over $5 billion of economic loss each year in the U.S. from fires and other property destruction.

Avoid the threat of lightning by following these safety tips:

  • Have a lightning safety plan. Know where you’ll go for safety and ensure you’ll have enough time to get there.
  • Consider postponing activities if thunderstorms are forecast.
  • Monitor the weather. Once outside, look for signs of a developing or approaching thunderstorm such as towering clouds, darkening skies, or flashes of lightning.
  • Get to a safe place. If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, seek safety immediately. Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing are best. A hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows closed is also safe. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do NOT protect you from lightning.
  • If you hear thunder, don’t use a corded phone except in an emergency. Cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use.
  • Keep away from electrical equipment and plumbing. Lightning will travel through the wiring and plumbing if your building is struck. Don’t take a bath or shower, or wash dishes during a storm.

If someone near you is struck by lightning and unresponsive or not breathing, immediately call 9-1-1 and administer CPR. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available. These units are lifesavers!  Don’t be a victim. If possible, move the victim to a safer place. Lightning CAN strike twice. Learn more at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov

Learn more at NOAA: Lightning Safety.

On a separate note, it is important to point out that Kentucky is one of the unhealthiest states in our nation.  A few healthy lifestyle choices could change this. First, eating normally proportioned helpings of nutritious foods including at least five fruits and vegetables a day can lower weight and reduce heart disease and diabetes. Second, exercising about 30 minutes per day can lower blood pressure. Third, avoiding the use of tobacco products can reduce several types of cancer. Finally, making sure you get your needed preventive screenings can detect diseases early and greatly increase your chances for a positive health outcomes, while receiving your recommended vaccinations can prevent acquiring disease in the first place.