Lightning: A Dangerous Fact of Nature

It may not seem to happen very often around here, but each year, about 400 people in the U.S. are struck by lightning. The results, as we've seen this week, can be deadly. But  there are safety precautions already in place and things you can do to keep yourself safe.

You are in danger of lightning if you can hear thunder. But if the skies aren't dark and it's not raining, where's the danger? "The unpredictability of lightning is what we're afraid of," says John Cannon, Robert Trent Jones, Director of Golf. "When we get the first strike within five miles, the sirens go off on the property. The sirens are a signal for all the golfers to come in. Secondly, we send a message from our golf shop to our GPS units in the carts that we have severe weather in the area please return to the clubhouse immediately. We can also see which carts believe they are in a safe area and we go out and get em."

Another popular spot during summer, a water park or pool.. But if there is a threat of lightning at the YMCA pool you will get out and away from the water.   Mary Brocious is Executive Director of the Bell Road YMCA, "If you actually see lightning then there is no question. Everyone has to be cleared from the pool deck immediately. Guards, participants, everyone is cleared to a safe place inside.

But most folks aren't at the pool when a storm approaches, or at the golf course. That's when experts say a little common sense comes into play.  "Electric lines, phone lines, metal, water they can conduct electricity so the best measure is to stay away."  Terri Faulkner says there is a simple rule when it comes to dealing with lightning. "If you see lightning at any time if you start counting and if you can't get to 30 before you here thunder then you need to go inside."

And one other tip, according to the National Weather Service, more than 50% of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has passed.