Protecting Yourself from Lightning Strikes
HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB) — With spring comes severe weather, and with severe weather comes lightning.
Just since yesterday we had three lightning strikes here in western Massachusetts – a student at MacDuffie, and two houses, one in Westfield and one in Whately.
Thunderstorms and lightning are common this time of year.
In fact, ten percent of all thunderstorms are classified as severe, and as we saw Tuesday, when a student here at MacDuffie was struck by lightning, all of them should be taken seriously.
The first bolt of lightning hit a 16-year-old girl at the MacDuffie School in Granby around 5:00 p.m.
The second smashed the chimney of this house in Westfield around 7:30. Then overnight, at about 3:20 a.m., a third bolt lit this house on fire in Whately, leaving the family homeless.
Even so, being inside is the best and safest place during a thunderstorm.
“Basically, you need to not be outside in the cases of severe weather and if you get caught outside, you need to get undercover as quickly as you can,” says Lt. Michael Pandora of the Granby Fire Department.
However, be careful what you chose as cover. You don’t want to be near anything that could serve as a natural lightning rod.
You should find a place away from anything tall, like a tree or a pole, and make yourself as small a target as possible by crouching low to the ground, and whatever you do, don’t stand on a hill or in an open field.
If you are inside:
- Avoid metal objects and fixtures
- Avoid corded phones. Cell and cordless phones are fine.
- Don’t shower or bathe as plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Unplug appliances, computers, and air conditioners. Power surges from lighting can cause serious damage.
When there is lightning going on you really don’t want to have open doors and you really want to stay back from open windows – any place where the lightning could actually come through.
You should also also consider getting a battery powered NOAA weather alert radio to keep on top of updates from local officials.
Something to note, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide absolutely no protection from lightning. Although you are safer inside your car during a storm than you are outside, according to the National Weather Service, 73 people die from lightning strikes each year in the U.S.
Hundreds more suffer life-debilitating injuries including memory loss, attention deficits, numbness and dizziness,