When thunder roars, go indoors
Louisiana is bested by only Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi for the most days each year rumbled by a thunderstorm. On average, there is a thunderstorm somewhere in the Baton Rouge area about 60 days per year. Where there is thunder, there is lightning and where there is lightning, there is danger.
Lightning forms when a negative charge builds up in a cloud and reaches for the ground. Positive charges at the surface are attracted to this descending negative charge—when they meet, a circuit is completed. The positive charge returns back to the ground; we see lightning, hear thunder and the intense voltage rapidly heats and expands the adjacent air.
Lightning has a number of different “strike” types. Direct, side flash, ground current, conduction and streamers can all inflict serious harm or kill. For much more detail about the specific types of lightning, click here.
Lightning is considered an underrated killer because in an average year it is responsible for more fatalities than hurricanes and tornadoes combined.
During an 8 year period from 2006-2013 two-thirds of those killed by lightning were participating in some sort of outdoor activity. Many of the deaths occurred when people were actually trying to reach safety. Victims began scrambling for safety after it was too late or were waiting to see if conditions would improve. GET TO SAFETY AT THE FIRST SIGN OF A DEVELOPING STORM.
No place outdoors is safe during a thunderstorm. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you, so move to a sturdy and enclosed shelter or a car with a metal roof. Once indoors, stay off of corded appliances that put you into direct contact with electricity. Avoid plumbing, doors, windows and concrete floors.
Remember to bring in your pets during thunderstorms, they are just as vulnerable as people.
In a worst case scenario, IF you are caught outside with no shelter within reach, immediately get off of elevated surfaces. Do not lie flat on the ground or sit beneath an isolated tree. Stay away from bodies of water and objects that conduct electricity. Don’t use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter. Slightly safer options include sitting in a valley, ravine or low area. Caves can provide some safety only if you travel deep into them and avoid touching both the floor and ceiling at the same time. If on the water, only large boats with cabins and lightning protection systems are considered safe.
The significant lightning threat extends 6-10 miles out from beneath a storm. Therefore, normal activities should not resume until 30 minutes after the storm has passed.
There are many misnomers when it comes to lightning. To find out if lightning CAN strike twice, if victims are electrified and your odds of being struck, click here.
Lightning alone does not constitute a severe thunderstorm warning, but it is clearly a deadly hazard. The best advice to remember when you hear the first rumble of trouble, “When thunder roars, go indoors!”
More information from SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK can be found by clicking here.
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