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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Protect Yourself From Lightening Strikes

I was struck by lightning in 1981, while standing a bus stop, waiting in the rain for the bus to take me to class at the University of Louisville. My hair stood on end, the umbrella melted, and I smelled smoke for days. I was one of the lucky ones.

Lightning kills nearly 100 people in the United States each year, and injures another 300. Most lightening injuries and deaths can be prevented. Take a few minutes to review the following so that you can protect yourself, your family, and your home. Don’t become a victim:
  • Get indoors and stay there. Be inside with windows and doors closed.

  • Don’t use the phone during a storm. Electrical surges can enter through your phone line and electrical wiring. It can cause your entire system to melt.

  • Stay away from metal pipes. Metal conducts electricity, which is lightening.

  • Avoid water: showers, washing hands/dishes, pools, or any other source of water. Water and electricity/lightening do NOT mix!

  • Turn off electrical appliances and equipment, then unplug them. This includes power tools, power strips, computers, etc.

  • Did you know that you don’t have to be in the middle of a storm to be in harm’s way? A bolt of lightening doesn’t travel straight, and is five-times hotter than the surface of the sun. It can strike as far away as 10 miles from the center of a storm.

  • Hook your electrical equipment up to surge protectors – including your computer, air conditioner, etc. In the event that you’re not home to unplug items, the surge protector will automatically shut the electricity down. This will help prevent fires and other damage.

  • Get lightening suppressors, which help diminish the damage caused by a bolt of lightening. Use them on your TV, cable antennas, phone system, etc. Protect your entire house.

  • Don’t underestimate lightening. One bolt is strong enough to power a 100-watt lightbulb for about three months.

  • Check your weather forecast before planning any outdoor activities, especially swimming in a pool.

  • Stay inside during a storm, if possible. If not, wait in a vehicle with a hard top.

  • If you are outside and unable to get into a car or building during a storm, stay away from trees, anything metal like light poles, bleachers, goal posts, etc. The lightening’s charge will go through the metal and could get you if you are close or touching the item.

  • Never lay on the ground. Instead, drop to your knees with your hands on them and bend forward. This will minimize the area of your body that is in contact with the ground.

  • Take a first aid course. It should teach you how to work with someone that has been struck by lightening.

  • If your hair stands on end, you are probably about to be struck by lightening. Watch out!

Be careful!


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