The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National
Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies are
joining forces to promote lightning safety during Lightning Safety
Awareness Week June 22-28.
“More than 70 percent of lightning strike deaths occur during June,
July and August, when people are enjoying more outdoor activities,”
said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Don’t take a chance with
lightning. If you hear thunder, that’s your cue to take shelter
Monken said some people still rely on outdated lightning safety
rules, such as taking shelter only if you can’t count to 30 between
seeing the lightning strike and hearing thunder. People are now
urged to take shelter in a substantial building or hard-topped car
as soon as they hear thunder.
According to the
NWS, on average around 50 people are killed and 1,000 people injured
by lightning in the U.S. each year. A majority of victims
were either outdoors in an open area or taking part in an activity
near the water, such as fishing, boating or swimming.
To date in 2014,
the NWS reports seven lightning-related deaths nationwide, none of
those in Illinois.
“The past several
years there has been an increasing trend across the U.S. in
lightning injuries and fatalities while people are taking part in
outdoor activities, such as fishing, walking or sports events,” said
Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS Lincoln
Office. “Simply put - there is no safe place outside in a
thunderstorm. You must take shelter in a substantial building or
hard-topped vehicle to stay safe.”
While less than 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are
killed, many lightning strike survivors suffer various degrees of
disability. Only a few lightning strike victims actually suffer
burns, and these are usually minor. However, many lightning strike
survivors are left with debilitating life-long effects, including
memory loss, personality changes, fatigue, irreparable nerve damage,
chronic pain and/or headaches, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.
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IEMA and the NWS offer the following tips for staying safe when
Outdoor lightning safety tips:
No place outside is safe when
thunderstorms are in the area.
If you hear thunder,
lightning is close enough to strike you.
When you hear thunder,
immediately move to a safe shelter.
Safe shelter is a substantial
building or inside an enclosed, hard-topped vehicle.
Stay in the safe shelter at
least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
If there is no safe shelter anywhere nearby:
Seek lower elevation areas.
Never use a tree for shelter.
Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies
Stay away from all metallic objects (fences, power lines, poles,
Do not raise umbrellas or golf clubs above you.
People shouldn’t hesitate to help someone who has been struck by
lightning since victims do not carry an electrical charge. The
surge of electricity through a lightning victim’s body causes
cardiac arrest in most fatalities, so immediate medical attention is
critical. If the victim doesn’t have a pulse and isn’t breathing,
CPR should be administered immediately.
For additional tips on lightning safety visit the Ready Illinois
www.Ready.Illinois.gov or contact IEMA at 217-785-9925.
[Text received; ILLINOIS EMERGENCY