Summer is a time for picnics, backyard cookouts and family vacations. However, summer is also the time when severe lightning storms can wreak havoc and spoil the best of outdoor adventures.
According to the National Weather Service, there have been 12 lightning deaths in the U.S. so far this spring and summer. In Georgia, 2 people have lost their lives due to lightning strikes.
To minimize your chances of being harmed by lightning, the Red Cross recommends that you take the following precautions:
- Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts and emergency updates.
If a storm is approaching:
- Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
- Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
- Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
- Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job!
- Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
- Try to reach a safe building.
- Avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers.
- Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe. If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!
- Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
When the storm is over:
- Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
If someone is struck by lightning:
- Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
- The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned or have other injuries. People who have been struck by lightning do not retain an electrical charge and can be handled safely.
- Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.
Contact the Atlanta Red Cross if you are interested in taking a Red Cross first aid and CPR course. For more information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe during emergencies, visit www.RedCross.org.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.