(KSLA) - Severe Weather Awareness Week continues in the ArkLaTex. Today's topic concerns something found in every thunderstorm, even non-severe ones....lightning.
Lightning is often referred to as the underrated weather killer. After flooding and tornadoes, more people die from being struck by lightning than any other violent weather phenomena. In the last 30 years an average of 51 people per year were struck and killed by lightning in the United States. People who survive being struck by lightning often have health issues, including muscular and neurological problems. Below is a state-by-state look at lightning deaths from 1959-2011.
When you hear thunder, that's the time to seek shelter. If you're close enough to the storm to hear the thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning.
Remember the 30-30 rule
The first "30" represents 30 seconds. If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to hit you. If you haven't already, seek shelter immediately.
The second "30" stands for 30 minutes. After the last flash of lightning, wait 30 minutes before leaving your shelter. More than one half of lightning deaths occur after a thunderstorm has passed.
You can tell how close you are to a lightning strike by counting the seconds between seeing the flash and hearing the thunder. For every five seconds you count, the lightning is one mile away. If you see a flash and instantly hear the thunder, the lightning strike is very close.
To protect yourself from lightning, take shelter in a sturdy, enclosed building. Sheds, dugouts, tents and gazebos are not safe.
Once indoors, stay away from windows, doors, and off porches. Avoid contact with any plumbing and electrical items, including TVs and computers. Lightning can strike outside and then travel inside through the plumbing or electrical wiring. Do not use corded phones, except for emergencies. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. Remember to bring pets indoors.
If caught outside during a storm, do not seek shelter under trees or near anything metal, such as metal fences or poles. Get out of the water and off the lake. Find shelter in a nearby building or a hard top vehicle (sorry, convertibles aren't as safe). If no shelter is available squat down and try to curl yourself up into a ball, making sure to keep both feet flat on the ground. You want to make sure you are not the tallest object around.