This week is Lightning Awareness Week, and it coincides nicely with the recent package Chief Meteorologist Doug Hill reported on about Lightning Safety.
Lightning is one of the biggest weather killers and in the summer months is at its worst. So far this year in the U.S., 7 people have been killed by lightning, which is good stating that the 30-year average is 53. The threat still remains though, as lightning can be a killer even if the skies overhead are blue.
Just this week, 23 Boy Scouts and an additional 3 Scout Leaders were struck by lightning in New Hampshire. None of them were killed, but some suffered burns and a tingling sensation. The majority of lightning strikes aren't fatal, but major complications can happen afterward and affects can linger the rest of your life.
The D.C. area is no stranger to lightning deaths over the past few years, with a 12 year old boy struck and killed while leaving a little league game in 2009, two people struck on the same day in 2010, and a woman struck while waiting at a bus stop in 2007.
The easiest way to avoid being struck by lightning is to head inside as soon as you hear thunder. Stay away from windows or if you're outside and near a car, get inside the car. For those scouts, the best thing they could of done was try to get to a substantial shelter which may not have been possible. That's always a good reason to plan ahead on days with potential storms.
The safest place if stuck outside during a thunderstorm is away from tall objects such as trees and make yourself as small as possible. I even saw Bear Grylls do this once on an episode of Man vs. Wild.
Luckily for us, residents in the D.C. area are usually close to shelter or a vehicle. Our partner WeatherBug has actually developed a Lightning Detection System across the D.C. area, with one such system located at Congressional Country Club. It may get a lot of use over the next couple of days during the AT&T National Tournament! Check out how it's used in our Lightning Safety Segment of the Severe Weather Special last Friday.