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Monday, June 24, 2013

NOAA: A Detailed Analysis Of Recent Lightning Deaths in the United States (and you were wrong about golfers)

 Statistically the most dangerous time and activity for getting hit by lightning would be fishing on a Saturday in July

From 2006 through 2012, 238 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States. Almost two thirds of the deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities. The common belief that golfers are responsible for the greatest number of lightning deaths was shown to be a myth. 

During this 7-year period fishermen accounted for more than three times as many fatalities as
golfers, while camping and boating each accounted for almost twice as many deaths as golf. From 2006 to 2012, there were a total of 26 fishing deaths, 15 camping deaths, and 14 boating deaths, and 11 beach deaths. Of the sports activities, soccer saw the greatest number of deaths with 12, as compared to golf with 8. Around the home, yard work (including mowing the lawn) accounted for 12 fatalities. For work related activities, ranching/farming topped the list with 11 deaths.

Males accounted for 82% of all fatalities, and more than 90 % of the deaths in the fishing and sports categories. Females had comparatively fewer deaths than men in every category, with their highest percentages in the boating-related activities(35%) and routine daily/weekly activities(35%).

June, July, and August are the peak months for lightning activity across the United States and the peak months for outdoor summer activities. As a result, about 70% of the lightning deaths occurred in the months of June, July, and August, with Saturdays and Sundays having slightly more deaths than other days of the week.

Ages of the victims varied from young children to older adults with the greatest number of fatalities between the ages of 10 and 60. Within that age range, there were fewer deaths for people in their 30s, possibly due to parents of young children being less involved in vulnerable activities.

Based on the media reports of the fatal incidents, many victims were either headed to safety at the time of the fatal strike or were just steps away from safety. Continued efforts are needed to convince people to get inside a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant. For many activities, situational awareness and proper planning are essential to safety.

Source info: Author - John S. Jensenius, Jr.
Lightning Safety Specialist
National Weather Service, NOAA
Executive Summary  Link

Lightning: What You Need to Know

  • 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 at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • 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.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions mayreduce 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.)

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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