Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Denver/Boulder, CO

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PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND JUNCTION CO
400 PM MDT WED JUNE 26 2014

...OUTDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY GUIDELINES...

COLORADO LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK CONTINUES THROUGH
SATURDAY. YESTERDAY WE DISCUSSED THE SCIENCE OF LIGHTNING. TODAY
WE WILL COVER OUTDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY.

OUTDOORS IS THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE TO BE DURING A THUNDERSTORM.
EACH YEAR...MANY PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES ARE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING
WHILE WORKING OUTSIDE...AT SPORTS EVENTS...ON THE BEACH...MOUNTAIN
CLIMBING...MOWING THE LAWN OR DURING OTHER OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES. IN
2013...23 PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES WERE KILLED AND MANY MORE
WERE SURVIVORS OF A LIGHTNING STRIKE. ALL OF THOSE LIGHTNING
FATALITIES OCCURRED OUTDOORS.

IN COLORADO...SINCE 1959 THERE HAVE BEEN 141 DOCUMENTED LIGHTNING
FATALITIES AND HUNDREDS OF OTHERS WHO WERE INJURED BY LIGHTNING.
IN 2013 THERE WERE NO DOCUMENTED LIGHTNING FATALITIES IN COLORADO.
HOWEVER...22 PEOPLE WITHIN THE STATE WERE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING
WHILE OUTDOORS AND ALL SURVIVED.

MANY SURVIVORS OF A LIGHTNING STRIKE ARE LEFT TO COPE WITH PERMANENT
DISABILITIES. A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF THESE TRAGEDIES CAN BE
AVOIDED. FINISHING THE GAME...GETTING A TAN...OR COMPLETING YARD
WORK IS NOT WORTH THE RISK OF DEATH OR A CRIPPLING INJURY.

LIGHTNING OCCASIONALLY STRIKES AS FAR AS 10 MILES AWAY FROM ANY
RAINFALL...AND HAS BEEN DOCUMENTED TO STRIKE UP TO 20 MILES AWAY
FROM THE THUNDERSTORM WHICH GENERATED THE LIGHTNING. MANY
LIGHTNING VICTIMS ARE STRUCK AHEAD OF THE STORM OR SHORTLY AFTER
THE STORM HAS PASSED.

BEFORE VENTURING OUTDOORS...

INFORMED DECISIONS WILL HELP YOU AVOID BEING IN AN AREA WHERE
LIGHTNING IS EXPECTED TO OCCUR. STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER
RADIO...CHECK NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WEB SITES...OR ACCESS YOUR
FAVORITE MEDIA FOR THE LATEST FORECAST.

A FORECAST RESOURCE FOR WESTERN COLORADO IS THE GRAPHICAL
LIGHTNING POTENTIAL INDEX WHICH CAN BE FOUND ON THE GRAND JUNCTION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WEBSITE...WEATHER.GOV/GJT...UNDER LOCAL
INFORMATION. THE LIGHTNING POTENTIAL INDEX SHOWS THE LIGHTNING
THREAT FOR THREE-HOUR TIME PERIOD DURING THE NEXT 60 HOURS.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THUNDERSTORMS TYPICALLY DEVELOP
IN THE MOUNTAINS OF COLORADO AFTER 11 AM. SO IT IS BEST TO PLAN
YOUR CLIMBING OR HIKING TRIP SO THAT YOU ARE COMING DOWN THE
MOUNTAIN BY LATE MORNING.

IF THUNDERSTORMS ARE IN THE FORECAST...CONSIDER PLANNING AN
ALTERNATE INDOOR ACTIVITY OR MAKE PLANS WHICH WILL ALLOW YOU TO
QUICKLY SEEK SHELTER.

WHEN YOU ARE OUTDOORS THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE
YOUR RISK FROM LIGHTNING.

IT IS CRITICAL TO KNOW WHERE A NEARBY SAFE SHELTER IS LOCATED IF
LIGHTNING THREATENS. SAFE SHELTERS INCLUDE A SUBSTANTIAL
BUILDING...SUCH AS A HOUSE...A STORE OR A CHURCH...AS WELL AS AN
ENCLOSED METAL-ROOFED VEHICLE SUCH AS A CAR...A TRUCK OR A BUS.

THEN WATCH FOR DARKENING CLOUD BASES OR RAPIDLY GROWING CUMULUS
CLOUDS AND HEAD TO SAFETY BEFORE THAT FIRST LIGHTNING FLASH. THERE
HAVE BEEN SEVERAL INCIDENTS IN COLORADO WHEN THE FIRST LIGHTNING
STRIKE OF THE STORM HAS CAUSED A CASUALTY. IF YOU CAN HEAR
THUNDER...THE STORM IS CLOSE ENOUGH THAT LIGHTNING COULD STRIKE
YOUR LOCATION AT ANY MOMENT...AND YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY SEEK
PROTECTION.

ONCE INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OR HARD TOPPED VEHICLE...KEEP
ALL WINDOWS AND DOORS CLOSED...AND DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING INSIDE
THE VEHICLE THAT IS CONNECTED TO AN EXTERNAL ANTENNA.

IT IS THEN RECOMMENDED THAT YOU WAIT AT LEAST 30 MINUTES FROM THE
LAST RUMBLE OF THUNDER BEFORE RETURNING OUTSIDE.

A RECENT LIGHTNING SAFETY STUDY HAS SHOWN THAT 95 PERCENT OF THE
PEOPLE WHO WERE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE OUTDOORS HAD A
SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OR VEHICLE NEARBY. REMEMBER...THERE IS NO
SAFE PLACE OUTDOORS WHEN LIGHTNING IS OCCURRING. DO NOT SEEK
SHELTER UNDER PICNIC SHELTERS...DUGOUTS...PORCHES...TREES...
CARPORTS OR TENTS. THESE TYPES OF STRUCTURES ARE NOT SAFE WHEN
LIGHTNING IS OCCURRING.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ARE OUTDOORS AND THERE ARE NO SAFE SHELTERS
NEARBY?

UNFORTUNATELY...IN THOSE CASES THERE IS NOT MUCH YOU CAN DO TO
REDUCE YOUR RISK FROM LIGHTNING. HOWEVER...THE BEST THING TO DO IS
MOVE AWAY FROM TALL ISOLATED OBJECTS...SUCH AS TREES. EVEN
SO...PLEASE REMEMBER THAT A TENT OFFERS NO PROTECTION FROM
LIGHTNING. IF YOU ARE ABOVE TREELINE...GET DOWN LOWER AND AWAY
FROM OUTCROPPINGS.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL SPORTS LEAGUES AND OTHER OUTDOOR
GROUPS HAVE A LIGHTNING RESPONSE PLAN THAT IS UNDERSTOOD AND
CONSISTENTLY APPLIED FOR THE SAFETY OF THE PARTICIPANTS. PART OF
THE PLAN WOULD INCLUDE A DESIGNATED WEATHER WATCHER AT EACH
OUTDOOR EVENT WITH THE AUTHORITY TO POSTPONE OR CANCEL THE EVENT
DUE TO THE THREAT OF LIGHTNING. IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE
KNOW WHERE TO SEEK SAFE SHELTER IF A STORM THREATENS.

WHILE SEEKING SHELTER FROM LIGHTNING...

AVOID METAL...SINCE METAL OBJECTS ARE GOOD CONDUCTORS OF ELECTRICITY.
DO NOT HOLD ON TO FISHING RODS...GOLF CLUBS...TENNIS RACKETS OR METAL
TOOLS DURING A THUNDERSTORM.  DROP METAL FRAMED BACKPACKS.  STAY AWAY
FROM CLOTHES LINES...FENCES AND METAL SHEDS.

GET OUT OF THE WATER...SINCE WATER IS A GREAT CONDUCTOR OF ELECTRICITY.
STAY OFF THE BEACH AND OUT OF SMALL BOATS IF LIGHTNING THREATENS.

IF SOMEONE IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING...CALL 9-1-1 OR YOUR LOCAL
AMBULANCE SERVICE. GIVE FIRST AID AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. IF THE
VICTIM HAS STOPPED BREATHING...BEGIN RESCUE BREATHING. IF THE
HEART HAS STOPPED BEATING...A TRAINED PERSON SHOULD ADMINISTER
CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION...ALSO KNOWN AS CPR. IF THE PERSON
HAS A PULSE AND IS BREATHING...ADDRESS ANY OTHER INJURIES. PEOPLE
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING DO NOT CARRY AN ELECTRICAL CHARGE...AND CAN BE
EXAMINED WITHOUT RISK.

REMEMBER...WHEN THUNDER ROARS...QUICKLY GET INDOORS.

THE LIGHTNING TOPIC FOR TOMORROW WILL BE ON SAFE SHELTERS AND INDOOR
LIGHTNING SAFETY.

$$

JIM PRINGLE
WARNING COORDINATION METEOROLOGIST
WFO GRAND JUNCTION CO


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