Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Boston, MA

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000 NOUS41 KBOX 221343 PNSBOX CTZ002>004-MAZ002>024-026-RIZ001>008-231345- PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA 943 AM EDT MON JUN 22 2015 ...NATIONAL LIGHTNING SAFETY PREPAREDNESS WEEK - LIGHTNING SAFETY OUTDOORS... 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 2014 THERE WERE 26 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 WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV 1. VISIT THE NWS-TAUNTON WEBSITE AT WEATHER.GOV/BOSTON 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 DEVASTATING. 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. $$ FOR THE LATEST UPDATES...PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBPAGE AT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BOSTON YOU CAN FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AT WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/NWSBOSTON YOU CAN FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AT @NWSBOSTON

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