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When Lightning Strikes

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Lightning is one of the most under-rated and consistent causes of weather related deaths or injury in our country. Some of you may already know that Florida is the lightning capital of the United States and it’s that time of year here. There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are more than likely within striking distance of the storm. Many people wait too long to go indoors when a thunderstorm is approaching.

What you Might Not Know About Lightning

  • Each year in the United States, more than 400 people are struck by lightning. On average, between 55 and 60 people are killed; hundreds of others suffer permanent neurological disabilities.
  • 54% of all lightning fatalies occur on open fields, ball parks and golf courses.
  • All thunderstorm produce lightning and are dangerous. In the United States, in an average year, lightning kills about the same number of people as tornadoes and more people than hurricanes.
  • Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. May lightning deaths occur ahead of storms or after storms have passed.
  • If you hear thunder, you are in danger. Don’t be fooled by blue skies. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat.
  • Lightning leaves many victims with permanent disabilities. While a small percentage of lightning strike victims die, many survivors must learn to live with the very serious lifelong pain of nuerological disabilities.

National Weather Service: Lightning Safety

How Do I Know How Far the Lightning is Away from Me?

Flash to Bang Method: Count the seconds from the lightning strike to the clap of thunder and divide by 5. This number gives you the distance in miles to the lightning strike. Anything under 30 seconds should result in removal of all athlete from the field of play.

Coaches, please don’t delay and make sure your student athletes are safe when there is lightning in the area. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

The National Athletic Training Association has provided some Do’s and Don’ts to follow when it comes to thunderstorms. Please read carefully and always err on the side of caution.

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