Lightning usually occurs during thunderstorms, which appear more often during summer months. The number of deaths and injuries from lightning fires is small, but the dollar loss is roughly $450 million per year. Almost three-quarters of fires caused by lightning occur outdoors.
“Practicing good safety habits is critical to minimizing risk during a lightning storm,” said Kristi Shepherd, public educator for the Garland Fire Department (GFD). “By knowing how to react and reacting quickly, serious injuries can be avoided.”
The National Fire Protection Association and GFD recommend these safety tips that residents can follow:
Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. If you are unable to unplug them, turn them off.
Follow the 30-30 rule: When you see lightning, count 30 seconds until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately. The threat of lightning continues longer than most people think. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before leaving your shelter.
If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Seek shelter immediately.
Stop outdoor activities at the first clap of thunder and get inside a house, large building, or a hard-topped vehicle.
When inside, stay off corded phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing. Avoid washing your hands, showering, bathing, doing laundry, or washing dishes.
If you are in open water, go to land and seek shelter immediately.
If you feel your hair stand on end, indicating that lightning is about to strike, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible to minimize your contact with the ground. Do not lie flat on the ground. This is a last resort when a building or hard-topped vehicle is not available.
If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge; attend to them immediately. Check their breathing, heartbeat and pulse.