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FEMA issues tips for Lightning Safety Awareness Week

lightning fatalities
Photo: National Weather Service

Chicago – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is stressing the importance of taking proper precautions during summer thunderstorms in recognition of the National Weather Service’s Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 18-24).

An average of 30 people per year were killed by lightning strikes over the past decade in the United States, according to NWS. Last year’s 38 fatalities were the most in nine years.

Lightning can strike from up to 10 miles away, so “if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat,” Janet Odeshoo, FEMA Region V acting administrator, said in a June 16 press release. “Seek shelter as quickly as possible. There is no place outside that is safe when a thunderstorm is in the area.”

The Region V office issued these tips to help reduce the risk of lightning strikes if no safe shelter is nearby:

  • Avoid standing under trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the tallest objects in the area.
  • Avoid hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
  • Steer clear of lakes, ponds or any other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from conductive objects such as fences or wires.
  • Do not lie flat on the ground.

When indoors, stay away from doors, windows and other items that conduct electricity.

One of best protections from lightning is to monitor weather reports and postpone outdoor events when storms are forecasted. FEMA offers a free weather app – available on Android, Apple or Blackberry devices – to help prepare for severe weather.

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