(WETM) – This week, the National Weather Service (NWS) is reminding Americans, “when thunder roars, go indoors!”
Lightning Safety Awareness Week, which started back in the early 2000’s, is a special week-long event set up by NWS that promotes lightning safety for the summer season. Safety tips, facts, myths, and statistics can all be found on NWS’s website.
One important safety tip for those outdoors during a thunderstorm is to seek shelter immediately. If out on a trip to the beach, for example, you should get inside a car or large building along the shore whenever you hear thunder. NWS emphasizes that no outdoor area is safe during a severe thunderstorm.
A common myth about thunderstorms is that people are safe from lightning if it’s not raining or if there aren’t clouds overhead. In fact, lightning can often strike more than three miles outside the center of a severe thunderstorm.
About 15 years ago, it was more common to see 30 to 40 lightning-related fatalities reported each year. Now, thanks to the educational methods of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, there has not been a yearly report of 20 or more lightning-related deaths in nearly three years.
“In the last five years the average number of deaths is only 17,” said lightning safety expert John Jensenius. “We think that has to do with the education and the awareness…making more people aware of the dangers of lightning and working with sports organizations and various groups to get those lightning deaths down.”
John adds that remote work due to the Coronavirus pandemic might have also contributed to the decrease in deaths, but not by much. Lightning can still be just as dangerous indoors as it is outdoors.
For people who are staying indoors during a severe thunderstorm, avoid touching electrical equipment, taking a shower, and washing dishes. Staying away from windows and doors with large metal components is also strongly advised.