Lightning Safety Awareness Week: When thunder roars, go indoors
Florida happens to be known as the Lightning Capital of the U.S, and Tampa Bay is the epicenter.
Living in Florida means frequent opportunities to see the amazing light show accompanying tropical weather. A word to the weather wise: Do your viewing from the safety of a sturdy, fully protected structure. Florida happens to be known as the Lightning Capital of the U.S, and Tampa Bay is the epicenter.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a memo on death and injuries related to lightning a few years ago. Florida had twice as many lightning-caused casualties as the state ranked in second place (Michigan). For this reason, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) chose Tampa as the site to kickoff Lightning Safety Awareness Week – June 24-30. According to the LPI, Florida averages nearly 3 million lightning flashes a year. Since 1998, there have been 81 lightning-related deaths in the state, and our abundance of outdoor recreational options contributes to the dangers.
Lightning is an underrated weather hazard – and it is deadly. Golfers, boaters, beach goers and those enjoying any of the theme parks must heed the LPI’s safety message:
“When thunder roars, go indoors.”
There is a mitigation resource for owners, operators and designers of outdoor facilities to provide best practices for lightning safety and lightning protection – www. lightning-risk.org. The group says the unique vulnerabilities of outdoor spaces make it important to think about safety in a project’s design phase. Some professions, such as firefighters and lifeguards, are most at risk since the job is an outside one, and it is no coincidence then that most lightning victims are men.
When it comes to insurance, lightning claims costs are rising because the electronics in our homes are ever more sophisticated and expensive. Lightning strikes cost nearly $1 billion in insured losses last year. But the loss of human life occurs when people believe myths about what to do when the lightning flashes. An educational video featuring Ben and Franklin busts those myths in cartoon-ish style, yet the safety imperative is all seriousness. NOAA’s weather primer on lightning notes it is not possible to have lightning without thunder. But it is possible you cannot hear thunder if a storm is too far away. If you are within earshot, go for cover. The insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety also has simple, inexpensive tips to reduce lightning damage.