The first rule of lightning safety is when storm clouds are forming, lightning is seen, or thunder is heard immediate shelter in an enclosed space should be sought. Buildings with plumbing and electricity are the best bet. Structures that are not fully enclosed like baseball dugouts, picnic shelters and tents are not a safe place to be during a storm. It is especially important to teach children about the dangers of lightning, particularly when they are enjoying activities such as baseball, swimming, or playing at the park.

When inside, avoid running water and electronics that are plugged into the wall for safety. If buildings are not available, a vehicle with a metal roof can be place to ride out a storm. Outdoor activities should not be resumed until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard.

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When a shelter or car is not close enough to reach, there are some tips to reduce the chances of a lightning strike. Avoid tall isolated trees or structures that can act like a lightning rod. Stick to low lying areas instead of hill tops and open spaces. Keep away from water and metallic objects that can conduct electricity such as metal fences. Also, power lines should be avoided especially if they are down.

Lightning strikes can be easily prevented but there have already been 7 lightning fatalities since April 23, 2013 in the United States. Lightning storms are a part of summer, but it is important to remain safe and vigilant.

Source: National Weather Service: Lightning Safety, “Lightning: What you need to know”

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