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Monday, August 5, 2013

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

By: Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management
Summertime can bring some fantastic displays of weather in many forms, such as incredible sunrises, beautiful sunsets, and intense lightning.  Lightning is a real risk, ranking in the top three storm-related killers in the US.  Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months in the afternoon and evening.  As lightning passes through air, it can heat the air to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun).  When this happens, serious injuries, or even death, can occur.  While most people struck by lightning survive, they can suffer long-term pain and ailments. 
Lightning can strike from a distance as well as by direct hit.  Lightning can travel through objects, the ground, water, pipes, or other objects.  Below is a list of ways to stay lightning safe this summer:
·         Postpone outdoor activities when a storm is being forecasted.
·         Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: The first “30” represents 30 seconds. If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to hit you.
·         Avoid contact with any metal – tractors, motorcycles, bicycles and golf clubs
·         Avoid contact with plumbing.  Do not take a shower or wash dishes or do laundry.  Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
·         Do not stand under trees; while the tree may shield you from rain they are a target for lightning.
·         Unplug electronic equipment before the storms begins.
·         Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
·         Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.   Never lie flat on the ground.
·         Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
·         When you see lightning in the sky, move indoors or into a building/shelter designated lightning safe.
·         During a storm, use your NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

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