According to the National Weather Service, lightning deaths were most common in the South during 2016. The majority of deaths occurred in open fields or in yards. In 2015, there were 27 deaths. This was an increase from 26 the previous year and 23 in 2013.

When there is a thunderstorm in the area, it is important to stay current with weather reports because a storm does not have to be considered severe for a person to be struck by lightning. Remember that the sound of thunder indicates nearby lightning and there are no safe areas outdoors. Standing under trees in a yard or under an open carport will not make a person safer. Gazebos and other similar structures should also be avoided.

What To Do When There Is Thunder

At the first rumble, move to a safe enclosed area and close the windows and doors. Whenever possible, stay in a building that has plumbing and electricity. If a thunderstorm develops while traveling, stay in the vehicle and keep the windows up. Metal-topped vehicles are safer than soft-top vehicles. After finding shelter, stay there for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. In several instances, people had been struck by lightning because they wrongly assumed that the storm had passed.

Indoor Safety Tips

Lightning can also cause damage to appliances and electronics. When a storm is in progress, avoid using a corded phone. Do not use computers if they are plugged into a hard-wired connection source or electrical outlet. Avoid using any other appliance or electronic device that is plugged into a power outlet. Do not take a shower, wash dishes in a sink or use faucets to wash hands. Keep bottled water available to drink during thunderstorms. Stay away from windows or doors during the storm, and never step out onto the porch to watch the lightning. This is true even if the porch is screened or has glass windows. If there are concrete floors or walls, stay away from them.

Outdoor Emergency Safety Tips

It may not always be possible to find shelter immediately when thunder rumbles. If there is no form of shelter nearby, take the following steps to reduce risks:
• Stay away from elevated areas such as hills or platforms.
• Do not lie flat on the ground since the current from a strike travels through the ground up to 100 feet from the strike point. Crouching with your heels touching may help with this aspect of the strike but is still not ideal.
• Do not stand under a rocky overhang for shelter.
• Do not use an isolated tree for shelter.
• Stay away from barbed wire, power fences and other conductors of electricity.
• Do not go near lakes, ponds or other bodies of water.

While driving, look for power lines that have fallen down. Do not drive near them or over them whether there is water present or not. To learn more about lightning safety, discuss concerns with an agent.

Interesting Lighting Facts from the NOAA

• Each second there are 50 to 100 Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Strikes to the Earth world-wide.
• Most lightning strikes average 2 to 3 miles long and carry a current of 10000 Amps at 100 million Volts.
• A “Positive Giant” is a lightning strike that hits the ground up to 20 miles away from the storm. Because it seems to strike from a clear sky it is known as “A Bolt From The Blue”. These “Positive Giant” flashes strike between the storm’s top “anvil” and the Earth and carry several times the destructive energy of a “regular” lightning strike.
• Thunder can only be heard about 12 miles away under good quiet outdoor conditions.
• Daytime lightning is difficult or impossible to see under local sun and/or hazy conditions. Night-time “heat lightning” can be seen up to 100 miles away (depending on “seeing” conditions).
• “Lightning Crawlers” or “Spider Lightning” can travel over 35 miles as it “crawls” across the bottoms or through squall line “frontal” clouds. This rare type of lightning is very beautiful as itzaps from “horizon-to-horizon”. However it can turn deadly if it happens to strike the ground at the end of its super long path! {Lightning Crawlers from The Blue!}
• Radar has detected Lightning “Crawlers” traveling at high altitudes (15000 ft to 20000 ft) as they zap from cloud-to-cloud.
• Lightning “Crawlers” over seventy five (75) miles long have been observed by Radar!
• The temperature of a typical lightning bolt is hotter than the surface of the Sun! 53,450 degrees Fahrenheit versus the surface of the Sun at 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit.
• How big around is a typical lightning bolt? Answer: About the size of a Quarter to Half-Dollar! Lightning looks so much wider than it really is just because its light is so bright!
• Lightning Strikes create powerful radio waves in the frequency range of 3 KHz (audio, VLF) through 10 MHz (shortwave radio). The VLF (3000 Hz to 30000 Hz) “lightning signatures” can travel around the world, allowing monitoring of world-wide lightning. The shortwave “lightning signatures can travel half-way around the Earth (the night-time side of the Earth). The best region to listen for distant shortwave lightning signatures is from 2 MHz through 7 MHz. After 3 AM local time you can listen to 3 MHz and hear the beautiful dispersion-ringing of the static as it bounces back-and-forth between the earth and ionosphere. It can at times sound like hundreds of tiny bells ringing at once!
• Red Sprite lightning is a newly-discovered type of lightning that zaps between the 40 mile span between the tops of severe storm clouds to the lower ionosphere “D” layer. Red Sprite Lightning looks like a giant “blood-red”-colored jellyfish having light-blue tentacles. Red Sprite Lightning creates extremely powerful radio emissions from 1000 Hz through VHF.