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Leon the Lightning Lion.June 25, 2007 NOAA’s National Weather Service is making kids aware of the dangers of lightning by providing them with easy-to-remember safety tips through “Leon the Lightning Lion” during Lightning Awareness Week, June 24-30, 2007.

“Lightning is usually the most dangerous and frequently encountered weather hazard that people experience each year,” said John Jensenius, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Too often people wait too long before seeking safe shelter from a thunderstorm and find themselves caught outside in a very dangerous and sometimes deadly situation.”

Jensenius has tracked statistics for 30 years which show that lightning remains the second greatest storm-related killer in the United States second only to flooding. (Click NOAA image for larger view of “Leon the Lightning Lion.” Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

“Because lightning is such an underrated killer, NOAA’s Lightning Safety Awareness team is constantly challenged to create new tools to help educate both children and adults about lightning and its dangers,” said Jensenius, who was awarded the National Weather Association’s 2005 Public Education Award and more recently, a Department of Commerce Silver Medal in 2006 for his work in lightning safety.

Several members of NOAA’s Lightning Safety Awareness Team, including the Lightning Safety Alliance, the Lightning Protection Institute and, have collaborated in creating a television public service announcement to educate children about the dangers of lightning and promote the 2007 campaign slogan, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.” The PSA introduces the mascot, “Leon the Lightning Lion,” a cartoon character designed to spread lightning safety and preparedness messages to the public.

Leon’s simple message, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors,” could save a life. Leon explains that lightning can cause injury even before it starts to rain. As soon as you hear thunder, head for a house, school or large building. If caught outdoors, get in a car, truck or bus, but never under a tree. Stay off telephones, computers and video games.

“Leon the Lightning Lion is a colorful mascot designed to help kids understand the dangers of lightning and learn how to protect themselves,” said Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute. “Lack of awareness is a common factor in lightning injuries and deaths. Leon is a kid-friendly character and his job is to teach children simple, easy-to-remember safety tips for lightning season.”

In addition to the PSA, the NOAA Lightning Safety Awareness Team is waging a full-scale campaign to educate children about lightning safety with materials that include Leon posters, safety stickers, teacher tools and a Web site kid’s page featuring an interactive computer lightning safety game.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites

NOAA National Weather Service

NOAA’s Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Media Contact:
Theresa Eisenman, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622 ext. 15