The first day of summer is June 20, but summer thunderstorms don’t wait for the solstice. Thunderstorms form quickly and lightning can be deadly. Lightning Safety Awareness Week is an effort by the National Weather Service to help increase lightning safety. It’s time to brush up on your lightning facts!

June is National Lightning Safety Awareness month.

Now’s the time to educate and raise awareness about the hazards of lightning in order to lower the number of deaths and injuries caused by lightning strikes. Remember, lightning makes every single thunderstorm a potential killer, whether the storm produces one single bolt or ten thousand bolts. Have a lightning safety plan. Check weather forecasts daily. Cancel or postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms develop.

Most lightning victims are not struck during the worst of a thunderstorm but rather before or after the storm reaches its greatest intensity. This is because many people are unaware that lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from its parent thunderstorm, much farther out from the area of rainfall within the storm!

Therefore, if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately. Remember this lightning safety rule: WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GO INDOORS… and stay there until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. Do not wait for the rain to start before you decide to seek shelter, and do not leave shelter just because the rain has ended.

There are ways to prepare you and your family should lightning knock out electricity in your home.

Follow these simple methods to assist you with the power outage.

BEFORE the Power Outage:
  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan
  • Follow energy conservation measures to help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts
  • Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer
  • Keep your car tank at least half full
  • Know where the manual release lever of your electrical garage door opener is located and how to operate it
  • Keep a key to your house with you at all time
  • Always have alternate sources of power such as flashlights, lanterns, and batteries
  • Charge your devices (cellphone, radio, DVD player, laptop, etc.) in advanced
DURING the Power Outage:
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting, not candles
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible
  • Turn off and disconnect appliances or electronics in use when the power goes out
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage or connect a generator to a home’s electric system
  • Do not call 911 for information – call only to report life-threatening emergency
  • Provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets/service animal
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car
AFTER the Power Outage:
  • Throw away any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine safety
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40 degrees and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it
  • Plug in electronics carefully
  • Contact any family members or friends that you were unable to reach during the blackout

For more information on do’s & don’ts as well as myths and facts of lighting safety, please click on this link: National Weather Service

Kristin Daniel is an emergency management specialist for the Office of Emergency Management & Resilience.

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Published on Jun. 20, 2020

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