Fulton County Office of Emergency Management, ZAP!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Every year in the United States, there are about 25 million cloud to ground lightning flashes and about 300 people struck by lightning. Many lightning victims say they were caught outside and couldnít get to a safe place, others simply waited too long to seek shelter. Some were inside homes or buildings, but were using electrical equipment or corded phones. Others were in contact with plumbing or a metal door or window frame.

All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rainfall, and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. If you can hear thunder, you are in danger. Lightning leaves many victims with permanent disabilities. While only about 10 percent of lightning victims die, many survivors must live the rest of their lives with intense pain, neurological disabilities and other health problems.

When you hear thunder, get to a safe place. Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing are best. A hard-topped metal vehicle with windows closed is also safe. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do NOT protect you from lightning. Avoid using a corded phone, cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use. Donít take a bath, shower or wash dishes during a storm, as lightning can travel through wiring and plumbing.

Avoid open areas, and stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles as lightning tends to strike taller objects. If you are with a group of people, spread out. While this actually increases the chance that someone might get struck, it tends to prevent multiple casualties, and increases the chances that someone could help if a person is struck.

Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and may need first aid immediately. Call for help, and if you are trained, begin CPR. Donít be a victim yourself, if possible, move the victim to a safer place. Lightning CAN strike twice.

Learn more about lightning safety at www.weather.gov/lightning.