EMA director: Beware of lightning

Published 11:52 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

County EMA Director Susan Harris says lightning has been severe the last few days and wants to remind residents to take precautions against being struck by lightning seriously, especially with more thunderstorms being in the forecast this week.

“Lightning is hotter than the surface of the Sun and can reach temperatures of 50,000 degrees,” she said.

Related story: Lightning claims man’s life in Baker

Thunderstorms are in the forecast the rest of the week.

Today, there is a 20 to 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. On Thursday the chance is 20 percent. Friday there is a 40 percent chance and Saturday there is a 50 percent chance.

Harris shared some myths that she wanted local residents to know the truth about in dealing with lighting.

Myth No 1: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. For example, the Empire State Building in New York City is hit an average of 23 times a year by lightning.

Myth No. 2: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.

Fact: Lightning often strikes more than 3 miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. In fact, “bolts from the blue” can strike 10 to 15 miles from the thunderstorm.

“Here are some guidelines courtesy of our friends at the National Weather service,” she said.

  • No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area;
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you;
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity;
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets;
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches;
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls;

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby, the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks;
  • Never lie flat on the ground;
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree;
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter;
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water;
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity – barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.