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If you plan to be outdoors, check the latest weather forecast and keep a weather eye on the sky. At signs of an impending storm--towering thunderheads, darkening skies, lightning, increasing wind--tune in your NOAA Weather Radio, AM-FM radio, or television for the latest weather information.
When a thunderstorm threatens, get inside a home, a large building, or an all-metal (not convertible) automobile. Do not use the telephone except for emergencies.
If you are caught outside, do not stand underneath a tall isolated tree or a telephone pole. Avoid projecting above the surrounding landscape. For example, don't stand on a hilltop. In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. In open areas, go to a low place, such as a ravine or valley.
Get off or away from open water, tractors, and other metal farm equipment or small metal vehicles, such as motorcycles, bicycles, golf carts, etc. Put down golf clubs and take off golf shoes. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, and rails. If you are in a group in the open, spread out. Keeping people several yards apart.
Remember--lightning may strike some miles from the parent cloud. Precautions should be taken even though the thunderstorm is not directly overhead. If you are caught in a level field or prairie far from shelter and if you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to your knees and bend forward, putting you hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.
Persons struck by lightning receive a severe electrical shock and may be burned, but they carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely. Someone who appears to have been killed by lightning often can be revived by prompt action. When a group has been struck, the apparently "dead" should be treated first.
The American Red Cross says that if a victim is not breathing, you should immediately begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, once every 5 seconds to adults and once every 3 seconds to infants and small children, until medical help arrives.
If both pulse and breathing are absent, cardiopulmonary resuscitation--a combination of moutn-to-mouth resuscitation and external cardiac compression--is necessary. This procedure should be administered only by persons with proper training.
Victims who appear only stunned or otherwise unhurt may also need attention. Check for burns, especially at fingers and toes and next to buckles and jewelry. Give first aid for shock. Do not let the victim walk around. Send someone for help. Stay with the victim until help arrives. Be prepared.
A Red Cross first aid course provides excellent instruction on how to render aid to a person who has been struck by lightning.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM: Winds more than 57 mph or hail 3/4 inch or more in diameter.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH: Severe thunderstorms are possible.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING: Severe thunderstorms have been sighted or indicated by radar.
|Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 12, 2011|