Lightning safety remains a must - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lightning safety remains a must

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June 13, 2007

Albany-- Thunderstorms are quite common in South Georgia during the Spring and Summer months, and that means more dangerous lightning.  Just a few days ago, lightning killed four horses in Lee County.

Lightning strikes the Earth about one-hundred times per second.  Last year, lightning killed at least 47 people in the United States and injured at least 246.

Dougherty County EMA director Jim Vaught says lightning is often overlooked as a killer. "Thunderstorms and lightning do not receive the same recognition as tornadoes, but statistically kill more people annually than tornadoes do, an average of 66 people each year" said Vaught.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the area where it is raining. If you can hear the thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek safe shelter immediately. You should even take precautions when you're inside during a storm. 

"If you're inside stay away from devices that have a cable like a telephone, avoid appliances and metal objects. If unfortunately your with someone who has been struck you can help them, they are not electrically charged and you can provide medical assistance to them" said Vaught.

If no shelter is available and you are forced to be outside, make sure you find a ditch or try to remain as low to your surroundings as possible. Trees and tall isolated objects are often targets for lightning strikes and should not be used for shelter, as we saw last Friday, when four Lee County horses were killed when lightning struck the tree they were next to. 

With common sense, you can greatly increase your safety and the safety of those you are with and still enjoy the outdoors. Remember at the first clap of thunder, go to a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to go back outside.