Living in Florida, we’re no strangers to the summer storms we incur each year that bring some of the worst lightning. While it may not seem much of a concern, lightning is a real risk—in fact, you're more likely to get struck by lightning than attacked by a shark! Did you know that lightning is the third largest storm-related killer in the U.S., causing nearly one billion dollars in damage, and strikes the United States about 25 million times per year?
Although most lightning occurs in the summer people can be struck at any time of year, especially in Florida. Lightning kills an average of 47 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured. Kennedy Space Center has documented lightning traveling almost 90 miles outward of the upper thunderstorm clouds.
Below you’ll find lightning safety tips to help you have a safe summer outdoors and on the water!
- Download A Weather App: With the era of technology and smartphones that come with weather apps, we have no excuse not to take this precaution. There are even apps available that provide access to a local network of lightning sensors. If it’s going to storm all day postpone your activity or if its possible storms, make sure there’s adequate shelter readily available.
- When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Find a safe, enclosed shelter when you hear thunder because where there is thunder, there is lightning. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up. Don’t take cover in these unsafe shelters: picnic shelters, pavilions, tents (any kind), dugouts, greenhouses, carports or open garages, convertibles, bicycles, motorcycles, and golf carts.
- Reduce Outdoor Risks: If there’s no safe place outside during a storm and you cannot get to a structure, try these suggestions to minimize your risk:
- Squat low to the ground. Do the "lightning position" by kneeling or crouching with your hands on your knees—never lie flat on the ground.
- Avoid tall structures (towers, trees, fences, poles) and open areas.
- Move into valleys, ravines, or low areas.
- Get away and avoid water and wet items, metal objects, tents, and natural lightning rods (golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods).
- In the woods, stay under a low clump of trees. Never stand under a tall single tree in an open area.
- If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning is close. Drop to your knees and do the "lightning position."
- Tips for Lightning While on a Boat: If you are caught in a storm and not able to get to land, stay away from all metal and electrical parts, including your radio (unless it is an emergency). Move into the boat’s cabin, or if you're in a boat with no cabin, then drop anchor and get as low as possible. Lowering antennas, towers, fishing rods and outriggers is also advised, unless they’re part of a designated lightning-protection system.
For more information check out these additional tips from the National Weather Service – NWS Lightning Safety Brochure. With these tips, you’ll have a great and safe Florida summer!