While tornadoes and flooding may have dominated the news this spring and summer, Johnson County Emergency Management is encouraging residents to be aware of another potentially deadly weather phenomenon – lightning.
Lightning kills an average of about 60 people each year in the United States. Summer is the peak season for lightning, and the National Weather Service recognizes June 19-25 as Lightning Safety Week. Cities and counties in the Kansas City metropolitan area are joining together this year to help protect residents with the installation of signs at area parks, playgrounds and ball fields with an important message: “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”
Lightning flashes can travel horizontally many miles away from a thunderstorm and strike the ground – sometimes appearing to come out of a clear blue sky. Any time you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. The only safe shelter is inside a substantial building or enclosed, hard-topped vehicle. Go inside and stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
When planning any outdoor activity, from sporting events to family picnics, be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave. Your best source for up-to-date weather information outdoors is a battery-operated NOAA all-hazards weather radio. These radios can be programmed to sound an alert when severe weather approaches your area.
Since 2002, the Metropolitan Emergency Managers Committee (MEMC) has partnered with area Price Chopper grocery stores on Project Community Alert to make weather radios available at a discounted price. Using proceeds from this campaign, MEMC recently purchased 1,000 aluminum signs featuring the “When Thunder Roars” slogan and other safety tips. The aluminum signs are available to participating local governments at no charge while supplies last.
By taking a few minutes to prepare, you can help prevent a tragedy. For more information, visit www.jocoem.org.