NOAA’s annual lightning safety campaign offers lifesaving resources and information

June 24-30 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week

June 20, 2012

NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker.

Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

This week, NOAA’s National Weather Service is taking its lightning safety message to the “lightning capital of the country” – Tampa, Fla., a city with more lightning strikes than any other in the nation. As the agency launches its annual lightning safety awareness campaign tomorrow, it reminds people when outdoors for work or play to go inside at the first sound of thunder.
The city of Tampa will host this year’s campaign kick-off event on Thursday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tampa Firefighters Museum at 720 E. Zack Street. Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Fire Chief Thomas Forward will join special guest, Dave Andreychuk, a left winger for the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, to host public museum tours, discuss lightning strike risk, and promote public safety. Andreychuk also will introduce the campaign’s new radio public service announcements.

“The message of this campaign is simple: If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you – go indoors immediately,” said Donna Franklin, National Weather Service lightning campaign manager. “It’s tragic when people die because they stayed on the water fishing or on the golf course one minute longer than they should have. Being a victim of a lightning strike is a preventable tragedy that the National Weather Service is determined to stop as part of our efforts to build a Weather-Ready Nation.”

Working with partners, NOAA’s National Weather Service is building a Weather-Ready Nation to support community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather.

Lightning kills 54 people per year in the United States on average, but it strikes hundreds more who are often left with life-long debilitating injuries. The U.S. has seen four lightning deaths so far this year, all male, with three struck while fishing. About 80 percent of lightning victims are male, and about 60 percent of victims are struck when participating in sports or leisure activities.

The National Weather Service has developed three unique lightning safety toolkits to help communities and organizations better protect citizens, patrons, and employees during thunderstorms:

These toolkits encourage venue managers to adopt lightning policies, safety and communications plans, provide patrons with safe shelter and education materials, and post signs reminding people to go indoors when they hear thunder.

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