Lightning safety awareness week seeks to save lives - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lightning safety awareness week seeks to save lives

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June 20, 2005

Albany -- During the summer months more people enjoy the outdoors, but safety officials want to remind you to be aware of those late afternoon thunderstorms.

Each year an average of 67 Americans are killed by lightning. During Lightning Safety Awareness Week, officials want you to learn how to not become a victim.

Warm summer days are most likely to develop thunderstorms, and one of nature's most deadly events, lightning. Deputy Director of Dougherty County Emergency Management Jim Vaught said "If you can hear thunder, that means you are in range to be struck by lightning."

This is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and you are reminded that lightning is deadly. Five Georgians were killed by lightning in 2004, and at least 20 more were injured. Vaught said "If they hear thunder, it's time to make preparations to get out and undercover so that you won't be struck."

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. If you are outdoors, especially if boating or golfing, seek shelter to minimize the risk of being struck. Vaught said "stay away from open fields and away from metal objects."

Use the 30-30 rule. When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If it is less than thirty seconds, the thunderstorm is within six miles and dangerous. Wait at least thirty minutes until after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter. Vaught said "If it's a cloudy day and you can't see the lightning, just assume since you are hearing it, it's within six miles and you should make arrangements to get out and undercover."

 If you are outdoors when a thunderstorm threatens, get to a safe place. If indoors, stay away from windows or doors. Avoid phones, computers, or other electrical devices while lightning is present.

 If a person is struck, call 9-1-1 and give the victim C.P.R. Cardiac arrest, burns, and nerve damage are common among lightning victims.

 It's better to be safe than sorry, and use common sense to avoid lightning danger.

 Since 1978, at least 47 people have died in Georgia from lightning, with hundreds more injured, more than tornadoes or hurricanes.

So far in 2005, there have been no lightning fatalities in the Peach State.

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