Lightning Safety for Kids
Of all the forces of nature that can be brought to bear, lightning is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable. Both major and minor storms are perfectly capable of producing lightning strikes that can strike from as far as 25 miles away. It is impossible to predict it or even see it coming, and by the time it hits there is no way to avoid it.
Children need to be made aware of the dangers posed by lightning and severe weather. All too often, children are fascinated by the boom booms and the light shows that go along with storms, and as a result may be prone to placing themselves in unsafe situations.
Some people talk about the phenomena known as “heat lightning” as if it is somehow safer or less of a potent threat than regular lightning. Be warned, lightning is lightning, and is equally dangerous if it strikes in your vicinity.
The most common rule of safety to be followed in lightning storms is to seek shelter inside a solid structure. By that, we mean a home or other enclosed building as opposed to an open carport or canopy. Don’t stand under trees since they are prime targets for lightning strikes. In fact, any tall structure is an invitation to a strike. If you are caught in the open, the best thing to do is find the lowest possible ground and curl up to make yourself the least of a target possible.
Other decent shelters include a car or truck with a metal roof, as the rubber tires guarantee that they are sufficiently grounded to prevent being a target. Be sure to avoid touching any metal component that leads to the outside of the car.
About a hundred people are killed every year by lightning in the US, and others are struck but survive with various degrees of injury. Injuries from lightning strikes, however, an often be permanently debilitating, and Florida leads the rest of the country in lightning-related accidents. Central Florida is known as Lightning Alley because of the sheer number of strikes every year as opposed to the rest of the United States.
The best way to remain safe in lightning scenarios is to practice the 30/30 rule: when you see lightning, count the number of seconds until the next rumble of thunder. If the number is under 30 seconds, seek immediate shelter, since you are well within range of any lightning strike that may occur. Stay sheltered until at least 30 minutes after the last audible thunderclap. Over half of all lightning-related deaths take place in the immediate aftermath of a storm when people have largely dropped their guard.
If you are inside a building, stay away from open exterior doors or windows, as you could still be a target for lightning. Stay off the phone and do not use electrical components such as appliances or radios.
A little common sense can go a long way towards protecting yourself from lightning strikes.