Helpful safety information for Lightning Safety Awareness Week

It's Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and with storms brewing, it's a good time to talk about some safety information.

Lightning is one of nature's most powerful forces.

In the United States alone, there are close to 25 million strikes each year.

And while lighting can put on quite a sky show, it can also be deadly.

The key thing to remember is that if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Many people don't realize that lightning can strike well before or after a thunderstorm has passed through.

So far this year, 15 people have been killed by lightning, including an Indiana boy. On average, over 60 people are killed by lightning each year in the U.S. with over 300 people injured.

Lightning is a giant spark of electricity that occurs in storms.

It is so hot, that the air around it is heated to around 50,000 degrees, which is hotter than the surface of the sun.

So, what causes lightning to form?

During a storm, negative charges tend to accumulate at the bottom of the cloud, while positive charges accumulate on the ground. A nearly invisible channel of negatively charged air called a step leader starts to surge out from the base of the cloud. Positive charges, called streamers, shoot up from taller objects on the ground. When the step leader and streamer meet, the electrical transfer is complete, and you will see the lightning stroke.

The rapid heating and cooling of the air around the lightning stroke causes a shock wave that we hear as thunder.

Staying safe from lightning can be as easy as staying inside. Here are a few things to remember:

  • When storms threaten, move indoors to a sturdy structure
  • Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard.
  • Rather than seeking shelter in a dugout or pavilion, get into a hard-topped vehicle and roll up the windows, making sure not to touch anything metal.
  • If you know thunderstorms are coming, postpone those outdoor activities.

Staying informed can be your best defense when it comes to any kind of severe weather.

And one way to stay informed of impending severe weather is with a NOAA weather radio. They are still available at Walgreens for a reduced price of $29.99.

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