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NOAA Urges, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

10th Annual Lightning Safety Awareness Week Runs June 20-26

June 18, 2010

Lightning strikes more than 400 people in the United States each year, causing devastating and permanent disabilities for those who survive. As NOAA’s National Weather Service hosts the 10th national Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 20-26, everyone is urged to heed this warning - when thunder roars go indoors!

The annual lightning safety campaign is helping to reduce the number of deaths caused by lightning each year.  Lighting Safety Awareness Week, first launched in 2000 to educate people about the danger of lightning, has helped reduce annual lighting deaths from about 72 to 58.

“While we have seen a decrease in deaths, many people still wait too long to seek shelter,” said Donna Franklin, NOAA’s Lightning Safety Team Leader. “Lightning has already struck and killed eight people this year so we’re continuing our strong push to educate people not to go outdoors during a thunderstorm.”

This year NOAA has joined forces with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, the Lightning Protection Institute, and the Lightning Safety Alliance to kick off Lightning Safety Awareness Week in Tampa, Fla., known as the “lightning capital” of the U.S.  Lightning safety experts will be on hand at the Museum of Science and Industry on June 20 to share valuable lightning safety tips with children and adults, and Radio Disney will host games and prizes.

“We are excited about this event,” said Bud vanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute. “We have a great opportunity to work with our partners and teach the public simple safety information that may save lives.”

“One of the most common mistakes people make during thunderstorms is huddling under a tree or other structure to stay dry. This can be a deadly mistake,” said John Jensenius, a lightning expert with the National Weather Service, “Lightning can strike from a storm that is as far away as ten miles, so if you hear thunder – you need to get inside a building or car immediately.”

NOAA has translated the brochure Lightning Safety for You and Your Family into Spanish.  That brochure and many more resources are available online.

To avoid being struck by lightning, NOAA’s National Weather Service recommends that you:

  • Get into a fully enclosed building or hardtop vehicle at the first rumble of thunder;
  • Stay indoors for 30 minutes after the last thunder clap;
  • Monitor the weather forecast when you’re planning to be outdoors;
  • Have a plan for getting to safety in case a thunderstorm moves in;
  • Do not use a corded phone during a thunderstorm unless it’s an emergency; cell phones are safe to use;
  • Keep away from plumbing, electrical equipment and wiring during a thunderstorm.

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