Hear thunder? Here’s how to be safe

Staff Report

This is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness wants you to know what to do before, during, and after thunderstorms.

As of June 8, there have been five lightning-strike fatalities in the country this year, including a seven-year-old boy from Tennessee. In 2017, there were 16 lightning fatalities in a total of six states, including an 82-year-old man from Brewster, Ohio, in Stark County.

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Stop outdoor activities and seek safe shelter immediately.

Listen to current weather reports on local TV or radio stations, or use a battery-operated NOAA weather radio. Be aware of changing weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms can produce hail, damaging winds, or tornadoes.

Avoid contact with corded phones and devices, including those plugged into electrical outlets for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are safe to use. If you can do so safely, unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.

Avoid contact with plumbing and water. Do not wash your hands, bathe, or shower. Do not wash dishes or do laundry. Water and plumbing conduct electricity.

If you’re caught outside, seek shelter in a sturdy, substantial building. Avoid isolated sheds or small structures in open areas, such as baseball dugouts. Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area. Also avoid hilltops or open fields. Avoid being in or near bodies of water such as the beach, a swimming pool, fishing, or on a boat.

Avoid contact with anything metal: tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.

If driving during a severe thunderstorm, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency hazard lights until the heavy rain stops. Avoid flooded roadways; just 12 inches of moving water can sweep away most vehicles.

Staff Report