Lightening Safety During Outdoor Activities
The heat and humidity of mid-Atlantic summer months can bring about dangerous thunderstorms weather. Below are common sense measures everyone should to take when participating in outdoor activities when inclement weather is approaching. Always remember where there is thunder there is lightening. A good phrase to follow is "If you hear it, clear it. If you see it, flee it."
1. Postpone or suspend activity if a thunderstorm appears imminent before or during an activity of contest (regardless of whether thunder is heard or lightening is spotted).
2. Postpone or suspend activity if any thunder is heard or lightening is seen.
3. Determine the closest safe structures in advance of any activity. Safe structures include the nearest school building, a complete enclosure, or a fully enclosed vehicle with windows tightly closed. Press boxes, shed, storage buildings, or dugouts do not provide adequate protection. Do not take shelter under or near trees, flag poles, or light poles.
4. Avoid being in contact with, or in proximity to, the highest point of an open field or on the open water.
5. Practice the "flash to bang" method of measuring lightening distance as it approaches. using this method, one counts the seconds from seeing the stroke to hearing the thunder. For each 5-second count, lightening is 1 mile away. So, at 25 seconds, the strike is 5 miles away; at 20 seconds, the strike is 4 miles away.
6. Select a distinctive, recognizable method to announce or signal the lightening warning and clear-the-area order, such as blasts of a whistle and a shouted command.
7. Estimate the amount of time required to safely evacuate, at a comfortable pace, to the designated shelters(s). The "Clear the Area Signal" should occur as soon as thunder is heard or lightening is spotted. Remember that lightning may strike as many as 10 miles from the rain that may accompany a thunderstorm. At a count of 15 seconds (3 miles) there is imminent danger, amid immediate defensive action must be taken. When lightning strikes this close, participants an spectators are in immediate danger.
8. By the time the flash-to-bang count approaches (or is less than) 30 seconds, all individuals should already be inside or should immediately seek a safe structure or location.
9. Designate one person who is responsible for monitoring the weather forecast, watching for the developing weather conditions accompanied by lightening, and timing the flash-to-bang intervals at the first sight of lightening or sound of thunder. This person should be in constant contact with the person who has the authority to give the clear-the-area signal.
10. Wait at least a minimum of 30 minutes from the last seen lightening strike and/or sound of thunder before resuming activities.