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 Blog Post

“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

June 09, 2022 03:00 PM

Lightning with a dark purple sky over the Allegheny Forest

Pennsylvania’s Lightning Risk: 

A striking statistic - Pennsylvania sees over 240,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year! We average five lightning strikes for each square mile of PA land in a given year. Lightning is dangerous and unpredictable, with bolts able to stretch over ten miles from the storm. It’s no wonder every Pennsylvanian is at risk for lightning strikes.  

Since 1959, there have been 139 deaths from lightning in Pennsylvania. Across the U.S., statistics show most deaths occur outdoors, and the vast majority are males (80%). Common Pennsylvania summer activities like fishing, camping, farming, and boating top the list where the most people have been struck and killed. So, how can we stay safe?  




Five Ways Lightning Can Strike You: 

  • Direct The strike current travels through the body. 
  • Side FlashThe strike hits a taller object and jumps to the victim, sending current through the body. 
  • Ground Current – Current from a nearby strike travels through the ground into the body. 
  • Conduction – Lightning strikes a metal object, and the current travels through the metal to the victim. 
  • Streamers – Alternate pathways for the main strike can carry current to the body (rare). 

Staying Safe from Lightning: 

  • Being outside is your greatest risk factor. Seek shelter in an enclosed, permanent building or a metal-topped vehicle. 
  • At the first rumble of thunder, head to shelter and stay inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble. 
  • Bring pets inside. 
  • Corded electronics and plumbing can carry lightning current. Avoid water and corded electronic activities during the storm. 
  • BEFORE a storm, purchase power strips with lightning arresters and surge protection. For the utmost safety, simply unplug appliances. 
  • Consider installing lightning rods on your property. 

Tips if Stuck Outside: 

Find a sturdy shelter, but if you have no options do the following: 

  • Avoid elevations such as hills, ridges, peaks, and wide-open areas. 
  • Do not lie flat on the ground. 
  • Stay away from tall objects, including isolated trees, power poles, or radio towers. 
  • Avoid water, including pools, rivers, lakes, and ponds. 

Helping a Lightning Strike Victim: 

Ensure you and the victim are both in a safe place, preferably indoors. Call 9-1-1. If trained, immediately begin CPR and use an AED if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. If using an AED, make sure you and the body are not in a pool of water, as the charge from the AED shock can be carried through the water to you, the rescuer. However, lightning strike victims are safe to touch and do not carry an electrical charge! 

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