Friday, June 25, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Summer is the peak season for lightning, one of weather's most deadly occurrences. On average over the past 50 years, at least one Kansan has died from a lightning each year. In response to this, Gov. Mark Parkinson will sign a proclamation on June 17 declaring June 20-26, 2010, as Lightning Safety Awareness Week.
Between the years of 1959 and 2009, 64 people have been killed in Kansas and hundreds injured.
"We often don't consider lightning as a big threat, but it is deadly," said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, director of Kansas Emergency Management, Kansas Homeland Security and the adjutant general. "The truth is that if you can see the flash, even if you don't hear the thunder, you're at risk of being struck by lightning."
Each year, more than 400 people in the United States are struck by lightning while working outside, at sports events, on the beach, out at the lake, mowing the lawn or during other outdoor activities. On average, 59 people are killed each year by lightning in the United States and several hundred more left with permanent disabilities. In 2009 there were 34 lightning related fatalities in the U.S., one of which was in Kansas.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management, National Weather Service and American Red Cross have joined forces to create the Lightning Safety Awareness Campaign. These groups provide the information below and tips to help people stay safe when lightning strikes.
There are hundreds of people that are struck by lightning each year across the country, but survive. The effects after surviving a lightning strike are often long-term or permanent. The symptoms of survivors include memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, seizures, depression and inability to sit for long periods of time.
Many deaths from lightning occur because people wait too long before seeking shelter. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough that it could strike your location at any moment, and often strikes as far away as 10 miles from any rainfall. Every flash of lightning is dangerous, even the first, because lightning can travel sideways from the storm. Even when the sky looks blue and clear, be cautious. At least 10 percent of lightning occurs without visible clouds overhead in the sky. Look for dark cloud bases and increasing winds, and head to safety before the first flash of lightning.
The most dangerous place to be in the event of a storm is outside. You want to first seek shelter in a sturdy, closed building that contains a mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground. Avoid sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, bleachers, open carports, garages and covered patios, which are not safe from lightning strikes. If no enclosed building is accessible, get inside a hard-topped all-metal vehicle.
If you can't get to a sturdy shelter, crouch down low in an open area. Stay at least twice as far away from trees as they are tall. Since water is an excellent conductor of electricity, avoid standing in or near puddles. Also, remember to avoid holding anything that will conduct or even attract lightning, such as golf clubs, fishing poles or tennis racquets.
For more information about lightning safety awareness, visit the National Weather Service's web page on lightning safety.