Lightning and Lighning Safety - An Introduction

Listen to Leon ...

Lightning Kills! Play it Safe

Maine has the 16th highest per capita lightning casualties rate in the US.

In the United States, there are between 20 and 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year. Maine averages about 60,000 flashes each year. While lightning can be fascinating to watch, it is also extremely dangerous. Each one of those 25 million flashes is a potential killer. Based on data for the last 30 years (1987 to 2016), lightning has killed almost more than 1400 people in the United States, an average of 47 people per year based on documented cases. In addition, during this same period, lightning has injured an estimated 13,000 people, some left with life-long neurological damage. In the last 10 years, Maine has seen 2 deaths, both in 2008, making it the 16th highest in the nation per capita.

Lightning causes considerable damage ...

In addition to the deaths and injuries, lightning causes considerable damage across the nation. Each year, lightning is the cause of about 25,000 fires, including about 4400 house fires, 1800 other structural fires, and numerous forest fires. Those fires are responsible for an additional estimated 12 deaths per year. All totaled, lightning causes nearly $1 billion in damages each year.

More lightning facts ...

Outdoors�

  • Plan outdoor activities to avoid thunderstorms
  • Monitor weather conditions. If you hear thunder, get inside a substantial building immediately.
  • If a substantial building is not available, get inside a hard-topped metal vehicle. If the vehicle is struck, the lightning will follow the outer metal shell of the vehicle to the ground. It's important to make sure that you're fully inside the vehicle with the windows rolled up. Note that the rubber tires do not prevent the vehicle from being struck, nor do they provide any protection.
  • Avoid open areas and stay away from isolated tall objects.

More about lightning safety and sports activities...

Indoors �

  • Avoid contact with any equipment connected to electrical power, such as computers or appliances.
  • Avoid contact with water or plumbing.
  • Stay off corded phones.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Remain inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder is heard.

More about indoor lightning safety ...

Remember - There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. When thunder roars, go indoors!

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