Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning Safety

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(WVNS) — It’s ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’ in West Virginia, Virginia, and the StormTracker 59 WeatherLab. The StormTracker59 team is bringing you what you need to know to stay safe before, during, and after severe weather strikes in your town.

The final day of ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’ covers lightning safety. Far too often during a thunderstorm — severe or not — people remain outdoors, so they are at risk for injury from direct or indirect lightning strikes.

According to the National Weather Service, 43 people on average die reportedly as a result of being struck by lightning. In reality, the number may possibly be higher due to other listed causes of death. While it doesn’t sound like many, it is easy to stay safe when lightning is nearby if you follow a few simple rules.

The easiest way to avoid being struck by lightning is to just remember these quick sayings:

  • “When thunder roars, head indoors”
  • “If you see a flash, dash inside”

You are safest from lightning when indoors or in a hard topped vehicle. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For the most part, you want to avoid touching items in your house that can conduct electricity, such as cables and wires. If you’re in a vehicle, avoid leaning on doors. Because if your car is struck by lightning, the current will be moving through the doors and frame on its way down to the ground.

If you are caught outside during a thunderstorm, the first thing you should do is try to seek shelter indoors. But there are other key points to remember.

Avoid bodies of water and items made of metal, as these are all good conductors of electricity. Your chances of getting indirectly struck by lightning go up if you’re near a body of water or standing in a wet or marshy area.

The final tip is to avoid tall objects. When lightning strikes, it will often look for the shortest distance to travel. Often times, it would be a tall tree, flag poles, or buildings.

Outside of these tips, remaining weather aware and using common sense can greatly reduce your risk of getting hit by lightning, as thunderstorms once again become a usual sight.

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