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NOUS41 KBOX 201347

Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Taunton MA
947 AM EDT MON JUN 20 2016

...National Lightning Safety Preparedness Week - Lightning Safety

Based on data for the last 30 years, from 1985 to 2014,
lightning has killed nearly 1500 people across the United
States. This is an average of 49 people per year based on
documented cases. Fortunately this average has been decreasing
since the start of the annual lightning safety campaign. Over the
past 10 years the statistics show an average of 32 fatalities per
year. In 2015 there were 27 fatalities. Of course, even one
death is too many.

Because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a
time, and because lightning does not cause the mass destruction
left in the wake of tornadoes or hurricanes, lightning generally
receives much less attention than these more destructive storm
related killers.

Documented lightning injuries in the United States average about
300 per year, however undocumented injuries caused by lightning
are likely much higher.

Each year, children and adults 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. While 49 people are killed in a typical
year, several hundred more are left to cope with permanent
disabilities. On average, 10 percent of lightning strike
victims die. That means about 90 percent survive, but some of
them suffer serious long-term effects. Many of these tragedies
can be avoided. Finishing the game, getting a tan, or
completing a work shift are not worth death or crippling injury.

Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from any
rainfall. There has even been a documented case of lightning
striking 34 miles away from the rain in the thunderstorm. Some
lightning occurs without any clouds in the sky, just blue sky.
Many of the lightning fatalities occur ahead of the storm because
people wait until the last minute before seeking shelter. If you
can hear thunder, you are in danger since lightning is close
enough that it could strike your location at any moment.

Here are some safety rules, more detailed information is
available on the Web at

1. Visit the NWS-Taunton website at or
listen to NOAA Weather Radio to find out if thunderstorms are
in the forecast. Special Weather Statements will be issued
for strong thunderstorm activity. Please remember that the
Weather Radio warning alarm tone will only be activated for
severe thunderstorms, which produce damaging winds and large
hail in addition to lightning strikes.

2. Keep an eye to the sky for darkening clouds and listen for
thunder. If you can hear it, go to a safe shelter immediately.
When thunder roars, go indoors.

3. Listening for static on AM radio stations can also be a good
clue to lightning in the area. Several private weather companies
offer lightning detection applications for smart phones.
You can even purchase a hand-held lightning detector which
will beep at you with increasing frequency when lightning is
approaching. Of course there is always a first strike but these
can be very helpful.

4. Postpone outdoor activities promptly and do not wait for
the rain. Go quickly inside a completely enclosed building,
not a carport, open garage, or covered patio. If no enclosed
building is available, get inside a hard-topped metal vehicle.
The steel frame of the vehicle provides protection if you are
not touching metal.

5. Stay away from trees. If you are in an open field, like a
farm or a baseball or soccer field, you are the tallest object.
Dugouts or gazebos do not provide protection. When thunder
roars, go indoors. If you can hear it, fear it.

6. Get off bicycles, motorcycles, and do not lean on vehicles.

7. Water conducts electricity. Get out of the water if boating or
swimming. Get off the beach. Do not stand in puddles, even if
wearing rubber boots.

8. Avoid metal. Do not hold golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis
racquets, or tools. Large metal objects can conduct lightning.
Small metal objects, such as belt buckles, can cause burns.

9. If you must be outdoors, stay several yards away from other
people. Do not huddle in a group.

Finally, in the unfortunate event that a person is struck by
lightning, medical care may be needed immediately to save that
person`s life. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, and nerve
damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning.
However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary,
most victims survive a lightning strike, although the long term
effects on their lives, and the lives of family members can be

Lightning question of the day, what are some of the physical
characteristics of lightning.

Answer, lightning is a giant spark of electricity. A typical
lightning flash contains about 20000 amps and several hundred
million volts. This compares to a standard household current of
15 amps and about 115 volts. Typically, a lightning flash is
only 1 to 2 inches wide. The step leader that initiates the
lightning flash propagates downward from the cloud at a rate of
about 200 thousand miles per hour. The return stroke, the
current that causes the visible flash, moves upward at a speed
of about 200 million miles per hour (about one third the speed
of light). In comparison, the sound of thunder travels at
about 1100 feet per second or about 750 miles per hour.


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