Lightning safety awareness week is June 19th through June 25th; the Grand Rapids Weather Examiner in combination with the National Weather Service will emphasize lightning safety. Each day a different topic will be highlighted.
Sunday – Michigan fast facts
Monday – Lightning overview
Tuesday – The science of lightning
Wednesday –Lightning safety outdoors
Thursday – Lightning safety indoors
Friday – Medical impacts of lightning
Saturday –Survivor stories
One of the biggest safety tips is to simply STAY INSIDE. Don’t leave your shelter. See more here: Oceana Co. man survives lightning strike
The best protection from lightning is in a house or other substantial building. Lightning striking these structures follows metal conductors such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines from the top of the structure to the ground normally leaving inhabitants unscathed.
Houses and large buildings provide the best protection. Small, all metal buildings may offer a minimal amount of protection provided occupants stay in the center of the structure and crouch down. However, these should only be used as a last resort. While small wooden or vinyl buildings may seem to be a better option than being out in the open, they offer little or no protection and should not be used as a lightning shelter.
There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings:
- A direct strike
- Through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure
- Through the ground.
Regardless of the method of entrance, once in a structure, the lightning surge can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio and television reception systems. It can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring as well as windows and doors. This makes it important to avoid contact with these conductors.
Injuries can still happen. Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas where other conductors are limited.
Within the home, avoid contact with washers and dryers since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems, but also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent. Concrete floors should also be avoided as they usually contain some form of reinforcement which can easily become electrified by a nearby lightning strike. Avoid bathing during lightning storms as the household plumbing can carry deadly current.
Remember Your Pets, dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or chained to wire runners can easily fall victim to a lightning strike. Bring pets inside.
Tomorrow is a discussion of the medical impacts of lightning.
For more info: Lightning Safety
Severe Weather 101 – Thunderstorm and lightning safety rules
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