As the dog days of August sear the country with heat, humidity and mosquitoes, violent thunderstorms and the lightning that comes packaged with them will threaten a wide swath of America. Here are some savvy tips to avoid lightning risk.
1. If you are outside, be aware and vigilant, and seek shelter.
Being outside is generally, but not always, more dangerous than being inside. Know the weather forecast. If lightning is in the offing, know where you can take shelter in event of a thunderstorm. When you hear thunder, go inside. Leave open, exposed places, like golf courses. A hardtop vehicle will do if you can’t find shelter.
2. If you happen to be stuck in an open place, like a meadow or golf course, crouch down to the ground, but do not lie down on the ground.
You want to be as low as you can to avoid becoming a lighting rod, but you also don’t want to get all the way onto the ground, because lightning that hits the ground could travel through wet grass and ground to zap you. You can be electrocuted even if the bolt strikes 100 feet away from where you’re lying.
3. Counterintuitively, you want to separate from others in a group if you’re out in the open.
You want to minimize likelihood that everyone will get struck at once as well as the likelihood that your group will form a “lighting rod.”
4. Get out of the water.
If you’re swimming in a pool or lake, exit at once when you hear thunder. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and lightning that strikes anywhere in the pond can cause injury.
5. If you are inside, take precautions.
Avoid using anything connected to an electrical outlet, such as a dryer, game system or corded phone. Using cellphones or mobile devices is okay. Likewise, do not take a shower or a bath or get in contact with water, because lightning strikes could travel through the plumbing system and cause burns and electrical injuries. Avoid lying down on a concrete or metal, particularly in places like porches, since these materials readily conduct electricity. Likewise, stay away from doors and windows, which can blow out in the event of a close strike and send glass your way.
Burns and other daily dangers don’t always make headlines, but the aggregate effects show up in 1statistical analyses, like this one:16 American Workers Die Every Day Due To Unsafe Workplaces.