June 17, 2009
Our love of outdoor activities and the frequency of thunderstorms make summer the most likely time to be injured or killed by lightning, according to statistics compiled by NOAA’s National Weather Service. In order to reduce lightning injuries and fatalities, the National Weather Service is promoting Lightning Safety Awareness Week the last week of June.
More than 70 percent of lightning fatalities occur between June and August, says John Jensenius, the National Weather Service lightning expert who tracks and evaluates lightning deaths for the agency.
Annually lightning strikes more than 400 people in the United States. About 60 of those die, and many more are left with devastating and permanent disabilities. The National Weather Service studies lightning fatalities in order to know where to best target its lightning education efforts. For example, men are struck far more often than women, sustaining about 85 percent of lightning deaths. And men under 40 account for 60 percent of all lightning fatalities.
High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
“At the start of summer when people are getting ready to enjoy outdoor activities, we want to remind them that lightning is very dangerous,” says Jensenius. “Lightning can kill – so remember - when thunder roars, go indoors.”
New for its 2009 campaign, NOAA has produced a dramatic video public service announcement by Ohio college student Ellen Bryan. Bryan’s sister, Christina, was seriously injured in a lightning strike nine years ago. A Miss America hopeful, Ellen Bryan has made lightning safety her personal pageant platform. View the video public service announcement on the National Weather Service Lightning Safety Web site.
NOAA also has published a new brochure, Lightning Safety for You and Your Family, which provides basic facts about lightning and information on how to stay safe during potentially deadly thunderstorms. It provides information for people participating in organized outdoor activities and identifies actions to take if someone is struck by lightning. The brochure is available on the lightning safety Web site.
To avoid being struck by lightning, the National Weather Service recommends that you:
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