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Howw to avoid being stuck by lightning:
This article cites opinions from experts on what to do to
reduce the chances of personal injury by lightning during a storm - how to avoid being struck by lightning while outdoors during a storm or if you
are indoors in a building lacking lightning protection. This article series describes common lightning protection systems, certification, installation, and lightning protection system inspection.
We provide information about lightning strikes, lightning hazards, related equipment, sources of lightning protection system installers, and lightning strike risk assessment
This text cites opinions about what an individual should do to reduce the chances of being struck by lightning if
one is caught outdoors during a lightning storm. (Most of the articles at this
website describe lightning protection systems for buildings, certification, installation, and lightning protection system inspection.)
My opinion is that specific details such
as being in the wrong place at the wrong time or conducting yourself improperly during a storm can significantly increase the chances
of being injured by lightning.
The boat shown at left was being driven by my father. When this Higgins speedboat was sold, the new owner tried to beat an oncoming storm as he fled across the wide expanse of the Rapphannock. The boat was struck by lightning, its occupants never found, and pieces of the craft were located floating in one of the freshwater creeks feeding the river. (LIGHTNING STRIKES SMALL BOAT)
[Click to enlarge any image]
Some inspection clients have informed me as well that the old adage "lightning does not strike twice in the
same place" is incorrect. Some particular homes, trees, or locations receive frequent lightning strikes.
Simple Basic Advice on How to Avoid Being Hit by Lightning
When you hear thunder, seek shelter indoors, go in before the storm, stay in afterwards: don't wait until the rain or thunderstorm has reached your location.
If you hear lightning, even before you see the storm, it may be as much as 10 miles away. But lightning strikes can occur
before you ever see the storm. "Blue sky lightning" is equally dangerous so don't wait for the rain to start to go indoors. Similarly,
since more than half of lightning strike deaths occur after the storm has gone by, don't rush outside right after the rain has passed.
Additional advice from several sources of information about lightning safety is provided just below.
Opinions on what to do in a thunderstorm to avoid being hit by lightning vary
"Although the scientific
understanding of lightning has advanced significantly in the last few decades (Krider 1996), a consistent match between
basic science and applications to safety had not been made.
For example, NOAA (1992) said to squat on the balls of your
feet and minimize contact with the ground, while NOAA (1985) recommended dropping to the knees during the lightning
threat, and NOAA (1970) suggested dropping to the ground.
Concerning when to reach a safe location, NOAA (1992)
recommended going to a safe location at the first sound of thunder, NOAA (1985) was not specific about when to go to a
safe place, and NOAA (1970) made no mention of this decision process. Similar variations can be found in these and many
other publications regarding additional issues such as medical and first aid approaches to lightning victims."
-- Quotation - see Holle/Lopez.
Advice from the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) on lightning safety during storms
Lightning safety while indoors during a thunderstorm
If your building is not protected by a lightning protection system, LPI advises:
Stay away from windows and doors
Stay away from electrical equipment and appliances such as hairdryers, curling irons (other electrical plug-in devices that you might be touching)
Do not attempt to unplug TV's, stereos, or computers during a storm. [Presumably you might be struck at the very moment
of handling the equipment or its wiring. Unplugging equipment well in advance of a coming storm would most likely be much safer--DF]
Don't touch plumbing fixtures like sinks, bathtubs, faucets, piping
Stay off of the telephone except for emergency calls
Lightning safety while outdoors during a thunderstorm
If you are caught outside during a storm and cannot reach a safe building or a hard-topped automobile, LPI
has some advice about what to do and what not to do:
Stay in low areas - avoid areas that are higher than the surrounding landscape
Stay away from trees - do not use a tree as shelter
Stay away from metal objects - keep off of bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts
Stay away from tall objects - like fences, poles, power lines, towers
Spread out - if you are in a group of people, don't all stand together in a huddle
Crouch down - if you feel a tingling and your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike! Immediately
crouch down. Do not lie down. Do not place your hands on the ground.
More lightning safety advice for what to do if you're caught outdoors is just below where I report the advice from UL and
add comments from other sources --DF.
Advice from Underwriters Laboratories on Lightning Safety during Storms
UL advises six steps to avoid being struck by lightning: [Bracketed comments are added information gleaned from other sources --DF].
Go indoors in a large or metal frame building, preferably one which has lightning protection installed
Avoid high areas where you will be the highest object. As stated by LPI, UL adds, Crouch down - if you feel a tingling and your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike! Immediately
crouch down. Do not lie down. Do not place your hands on the ground. Put your hands on your knees. [If you seek shelter in a ditch, don't lie down
in it and don't seek shelter in a wet or flooding ditch, just a dry one!--DF]
Stay off of the lake, the tractor, etc.: lakes, beaches, open water, fishing from a boat or dock, riding golf carts, operating farm equipment,
bicycles, motorcycles, even riding in a convertible can be dangerous. [Metal-roofed automobiles are usually good protection--DF] If you are riding
a motorcycle down the highway in a thunderstorm, take shelter in a tunnel, or in emergency, even in a ditch or cave if there is no better location.
[Motorcycle riders may seek shelter from lightning strikes under an overpass or bridge if there is no nearby building available,
but don't lean against concrete or steel pillars as they may end up conducting a lightning bolt to earth (and you)!
Motor cycle riders who ride during thunderstorms should see "Lightning Awareness," by Gerry Schulte, and appearing in the BMW ON magazine, June 2007 --DF]
If caught outside on high ground or in the open, go to a low area and stay away from trees, particularly isolated trees. [Stay away from trees at a horizontal distance of at
least twice that of the height of the tree.
Avoid fences, poles, trees or other electrically conductive objects as they can send out "side flashes" during a lightning strike.
Indoors do not: stand by open windows or doors, near TVs, nor near large metal objects like sinks, tubs, radiators, stoves, refrigerators.
Avoid using small electrical appliances like toasters, radios, hair dryers.
[Added-DF: Metal objects which you may be carrying such as metal frame backpacks or golf clubs increase the chances of being stuck
by lightning or of being burned by a strike or nearby strike and a side-flash. Take off such items and stay at least 50 feet from them.]
First aid for lightning strike victims
This is very basic advice and does not address CPR training or other levels of expertise.
If more than one rescuer is present or if you have a cell phone, call 911 for emergency assistance immediately
Start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
If the victim does not have a pulse, start cardiac compressions.
If the victim is cold and wet, put them on a blanket or cover to insulate them from the ground and to reduce the risk of
Report on Lightning Strike Catastrophes for Small Boats on Open Water
A case involving my Dad's speedboat shown here ended in tragedy in Virginia in 1950 [the photograph was taken in 1949]:
a neighbor who had purchased my dad's Higgins speedboat came to take delivery. The new owner was struck by lightning while
on the water.
Continue reading at LIGHTNING STRIKES SMALL BOAT or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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Portions of this information are based on UL publication 200-81 11/87 and other local service company information about lightning protection systems and lightning strike hazards.
Special thanks to Associated Lightning Rod Company, Cooper Road Box 329A, Millerton NY who has been contributing technical content in presentations
to NY ASHI home inspectors since 1996. Some of that information [on lightning system material and installation details] was edited for clarity. ALRCi can be reached at 518-789-4603, 845-373-8309, 860-364-1498 and will inspect your lightning protection
system at no charge. [We have no financial nor any other business relationship with any company or product discussed at this website--DF]
Lightning strike risk assessment: for the full body of this excellent article which summarizes recent opinions about lightning
strike risk assessment and safe practices for individuals or groups needing to avoid being struck by lightning, see Updated Recommendations for Lightning Safety - 1998 Ronald L. Holle and Raul E. Lopez from National Severe Storms Laboratory,
NOAA and Norman, Oklahoma, Christoph Zimmermann Global Atmospherics, Inc. Tucson, Arizona
As we indicated in an original version of this article, a lightning strike risk assessment guide can be found in Appendix I of the
National Fire Protection Association's Lightning Protection Code, NFPA #780.
The guide considers type of structure, type
of construction, structure location, topography, occupancy, contents and lightning frequency. Contact NFPA, Batterymarch
Park, Quincy, MA 02269 617-770-3000.
Lightning Protection Institute, 3365 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Suite J., Arlington Heights IL 60004
Underwriters Laboratory Standard UL96A. These requirements cover the installation of lightning protection systems on all types of structures other than structures used for the production, handling, or storage of ammunition, explosives, flammable liquids or gases, and other explosive ingredients including dust. These requirements apply to lightning protection systems that are complete and cover all parts of a structure. Partial systems are not covered by this standard. These requirements do not cover the installation of lightning protection systems for electrical generating, distribution, or transmission systems. These requirements do not cover lightning protection components, which are covered by the Standard for Lightning Protection Components, UL 96.
Underwriters Laboratory Standard UL96: These requirements cover lightning protection components for use in the installation of complete systems of lightning protection on buildings and structures. These requirements do not cover the installation of lightning protection components. Products of this type are covered by the Standard for Installation Requirements for Lightning Protection Systems, UL 96A.
"Lightning Awareness," Gerry Schulte, BMW ON magazine, June 2007 pp. 58-60, provided some technical details about lightning, and refers readers to www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.htm
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Armor Lightning Protection Inc Manchester Center, VT, 802-375-0266
state-of-the-art lightning protection and surge protection for residential and commercial buildings in Vermont, New England, and throughout the Northeast
Associated Lightning Rod Company, Inc., Box 329A, Cooper Road, Millerton, NY 12546 914/373-8309 518/789-4603
A-C Lightning Security, Inc., 2100 East First St., PO Box 329, Maryville MO 64468 816-582-8115 800-821-5575 816-562-2932. In New York, Hudson Valley, contact Christensen Electrical Power Systems, Richard G. Christensen, 518-537-4128.
Lightning Eliminators & Consultants6687 Arapahoe Road Boulder, CO 80303 (303) 447-2828. "Engineering Solutions For Lightning, Grounding and Surge Protection Worldwide Since 1971"
UL - Underwriters Labs Lightning equipment certification program.
"Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) has been testing and certifying lightning protection equipment since 1908. UL issues certificates of conformance for systems, inspecting system components and checking completed installations. Installations are required to comply with UL's internationally recognized Standards for lightning protection systems. Manufacturers, suppliers and installers demonstrate their commitment to safety by building,
selling and installing only those lightning protection products that pass UL's rigorous testing." -- (Op.Cit.)
Aluminum Wiring Information WebsiteAluminum Electrical Wiring Hazards and Repairs: in-depth authoritative info, photos, documents including selection of proper vs. ineffective repair methods. E.g.: Ideal 65 "Twister" purple connector fails in field and lab testing with aluminum wire.
Electrical Panels, How to Inspect in buildings, safety for electrical inspectors, electrical panel, fusing, wiring defects, defective products. Inspection Class Presentation
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