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Lightning Facts

  • Average lightning stroke is 6 miles long.
  • The temperature of lightning's return stroke can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of the sun is not even that hot! (around 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Average Thunderstorm is 6-10 miles wide.
  • Average Thunderstorm travels at a rate of 25 miles per hour.
  • Once the leading edge of a thunderstorm approaches to within 10 miles, you are at immediate risk due to the possibility of lightning strokes coming from overhanging anvil cloud. Because of this, many lightning deaths and injuries occur with clear skies directly overhead.
  • On average, thunder can only be heard over a distance of 3-4 miles, depending on humidity, terrain and other factors.
  • Approximately 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States each year. Approximately 10% of all thunderstorms are severe enough to produce high winds, flash floods, and tornadoes.
  • Thunderstorms cause an average of 200 deaths and 700 injuries in the United States each year.

These facts are taken from the Automated Weather Source Online

Lightning Safety Rules

courtesy of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U. S. Department of Commerce

  • Stay indoors, and don't venture outside, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Stay away from open doors and windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and plug-in electrical appliances.
  • Don't use plug-in electrical equipment like hair driers, electric toothbrushes, or electric razors during the storm.
  • Don't use the telephone during the storm. Lightning may strike telephone lines outside.
  • Don't take laundry off the clothesline.
  • Don't work on fences, telephone or power lines, pipelines, or structural steel fabrication.
  • Don't use metal objects like fishing rods and golf clubs. Golfers wearing cleated shoes are particularly good lightning rods.
  • Don't handle flammable materials in open containers.
  • Stop tractor work, especially when the tractor is pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are often struck by lightning.
  • Get out of the water and off small boats.
  • Stay in your automobile if you are traveling. Automobiles offer excellent lightning protection.
  • Seek shelter in buildings. If no buildings are available, your best protection is a cave, ditch, canyon, or under head-high clumps of trees in open forest glades.
  • When there is no shelter, avoid the highest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, your best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high.
  • Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clotheslines, exposed sheds, and any electrically conductive elevated objects.
  • When you feel the electrical charge -- if your hair stands on end or your skin tingles -- lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to the ground immediately.

Lightning Safety Tips!

Your safety is a first priority. Lightning is dangerous because it is random and unpredictable.

Please read, learn and teach others the following lightning safety tips. Be prepared to act quickly.

1. PLAN in advance your evacuation and safety measures. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. Lightning often precedes rain, so don't wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.

2. IF OUTDOORS... Avoid water. Avoid the high ground. Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe include underneath canopies, small rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should:

A. Crouch down. Put feet together. Place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.

B. Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.

3. IF INDOORS... Avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Do not use the telephone. Take off head sets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, & TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.

4. SUSPEND ACTIVITIES for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

5. INJURED PERSONS do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safety. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.


Brought to you by the National Lightning Safety Institute, Tel. 303-666-8817. Please reprint and distribute this safety message.

Lightning Safety Plan for Outdoor Recreation Events





Practice and training increase athletic performance. Similarly, preparedness can reduce the risk of the lightning hazard. Lightning is the most frequent weather hazard impacting athletic events. Baseball, football, golf, skiing, swimming, soccer, tennis, track and field events... all these and other outdoor sports have been impacted by lightning.

Advance planning is the single most important means to achieve lightning safety. A Lightning Safety Plan should be implemented at your facility. The following steps are recommended:


1. Designate a responsible person to monitor weather conditions. Local weather forecasts - from The Weather Channel, NOAA Weather Radio, or local TV stations should be observed 24 hours prior to athletic events. An inexpensive portable weather radio will provide regular weather condition updates.

2. An emergency procedure should include: SUSPEND ACTIVITIES EVACUATE PEOPLE - MONITOR CONDITIONS - RESUME ACTIVITIES. Identify safe and unsafe locations beforehand.



a. Fully enclosed metal vehicles with windows up.

b. Substantial buildings.



a. Small buildings including gazebos and picnic & rain shelters.

b. Metallic objects like flag poles, fences and gates, metal bleachers, electric equipment, machinery, and pipes & wiring.

  1. c. AVOID trees, AVOID water, AVOID open fields, AVOID using the telephone and headsets.

3. People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to handle. Apply First Aid immediately, if you are qualified to do so. Get emergency help promptly.


Please re-print & distribute this safety message.

 Prepared by the National Lightning Safety Institute, Louisville, CO. Tel. 303-666-8817.

 WWWeb =


(Applies to Indoor and Outdoor Pools)

Lightning’s behavior is random and unpredictable. We recommend a very conservative attitude towards it. Preparedness and quick responses are the best defenses towards the lightning hazard.

Swimming pools are connected to a much larger surface area via underground water pipes, gas lines, electric and telephone wiring, etc. Lightning strikes to the ground anywhere on this metallic network may induce shocks elsewhere. The National Lightning Safety Institute recommends the following swimming pool safety procedures:

1. Designate a responsible person as the weather safety lookout. That person should keep an eye on the weather. Use a "weather radio" or the Weather Channel or other TV program to obtain good localized advanced weather information.

2. When thunder and/or lightning are first noticed, use the Flash-To-Bang (F-B) method to determine its’ rough distance and speed. This technique measures the time from seeing lightning to hearing associated thunder. For each five seconds from F-B, lightning is one mile away. Thus, a F-B of 10 = 2 miles; 15 = 3 miles; 20 = 4 miles; etc. At a F-B count of thirty, the pool should be evacuated. People should be directed to safe shelter nearby.

3. Pool activities should remain suspended until thirty minutes after the last thunder is heard. The distance from Strike A to Strike B to Strike C can be up to 5 miles away. And it can strike much farther away. Why take a chance with lightning?


Please re-print & distribute this safety message.

Prepared by the National Lightning Safety Institute, Louisville, CO. Tel. 303-666-8817.

WWWeb =