Severe weather season is in full swing in Ohio.
Just in the last week, all 88 counties in the state were under some kind of severe thunderstorm or tornado warning. Besides the threat of flash flooding, damaging winds and of course, tornadoes, lightning can be a deadly force to contend with even in non-severe storms.
In an annual coordinated effort with the National Weather Service, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is promoting June 21-27 as National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Now is an important time to remember what to do when storms strike and how to stay safe if you’re caught in them.
What You Need To Know
- “When thunder roars, go indoors!”
- Have a plan ready before storms hit
- Remember the 30-30 rule
- Stay away from and out of bodies of water during a storm
Lightning Safety Awareness Week began in 2001, and since its inception, fatalities in the U.S. from lightning have dropped from about 50 per year to less than 30. The National Weather Service attributes this reduction to this very safety campaign, increased awareness of lightning danger, and people having advanced notice of when storms are approaching.
So far this year (as of June 15) three people have died in the U.S. after being struck by lightning. In 2019, a total of 20 people died, including two in the Cincinnati area who unfortunately tried to seek shelter from a storm under a tree (which you should never do) Remember, there is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm – severe or not. Now is a good time to review a few safety precautions:
Before the storm
- Pay attention to the weather forecast each day. While spring and summer are the most typical seasons to see thunderstorms, they can occur year-round.
- Make sure your phone is charged when heading outdoors and is set up to receive weather alerts.
- Identify a shelter or safe space nearby so you can get to safety quickly in the event of lightning.
During the storm
- Drop what you’re doing and get inside at the sight of lightning or the sound of thunder.
- If out boating, fishing or swimming, get back to land right away.
- Once you do get indoors, avoid running water or using landline telephones. If lightning strikes, electricity can travel through phone lines and plumbing.
- A car is a safe place to seek shelter in, as long as the windows are closed.
- The 30-30 rule: When a storm starts to pass, suspend outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. Lightning can extend out miles from a thunderstorm, even if it’s moving away from you.
When planning anything outdoors this summer, whether a family picnic or a weekend camping, spend a few minutes going over a storm safety preparedness plan. A little bit of time can go a long way to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when thunderstorms hit. For more information on Lightning Safety Awareness Week, please visit www.weathersafety.ohio.gov