Lightning is an enormous electrostatic discharge between the cloud and the ground, other clouds, or within a cloud. According to the National Weather Service, an average of 48 people are killed each year by lightning in the United States. Colorado ranks 8th in the nation for number of injuries and deaths caused by lightning. Other lightning facts:
- All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous.
- Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from any rainfall.
- Lightning can cause death or permanent injury; 10% of people struck by lightning die, and 70% of survivors suffer serious long-term effects, including memory loss, sleep disorders, numbness, fatigue, muscle spasms and stiffness in joints.
- Lightning DOES strike in the same place twice – or more. In fact, it often has “favorite” places.
- Lightning strike victims do not carry an electrical charge and should be helped immediately.
Outdoor lightning safety
- Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm.
- Take shelter in a building or an enclosed vehicle. Remember the 30-30 rule: The first 30 means you need to take cover if you hear thunder within 30 seconds of seeing lightning; the second 30 reminds you to wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or thunder before resuming outdoor activity.
- Do not touch anything metal during a thunderstorm.
- Avoid standing water.
- Don’t wait for rain to take shelter. Most people struck by lightning are not in the rain.
- If you feel your hair stand on end or your skin tingle, squat low to the ground with your hands behind or on top of your head. DO NOT LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND!
Indoor lightning safety
- Avoid hard-wired phones.
- Avoid using electrical equipment
- Avoid plumbing – wait until the storm passes to wash your hands, do dishes, shower or do laundry.
- Stay away from doors and windows.
- Do not lie on concrete floors.