Lightning is the most consistent and significant weather hazard that may affect interscholastic athletes and other outdoor activities. Within the United States, the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) estimates more than 100 fatalities and 400-500 injuries requiring medical treatment occur from lighting strikes every year. While the probability of being struck by lightning is extremely low, the odds are significantly greater when a storm is in the area and the proper safety precautions are not followed. Three Quarters of all lightning casualties occur between May and September, and nearly four out of five occur between 10am and 7pm.
Prevention and education are the keys to lightning safety. Education begins with information on lightning. The references associated with these guidelines are an appropriate resource. Prevention should begin long before any athletic event or practice is held. The following steps are recommended by the NATA, NCAA, UIL and NSSL to mitigate the lightning hazard.
Chain of Command
Designated Weather Watchers
Director of Emergency Management and Athletic Trainers will monitor current weather and keep members of the chain of command informed. All representatives in the “Chain of Command” are required to monitor local weather forecast. M&O foremen will also maintain awareness of incoming thunderstorms.
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. Just remember, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.
The best way for you to protect yourself from lightning is to avoid the threat. You simply don’t want to be caught outside in a storm. Have a lightning safety plan, and cancel or postpone activities early if thunderstorms are expected. Monitor weather conditions and get to a safe place before the weather becomes threatening. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options. Rain shelters, small sheds, and open vehicles are not safe.
When inside, do not touch anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet, plumbing, and corded phones. Cell phones and cordless phones are safe. Also, keep away from outside doors and windows and do not lie on a garage floor.
Understanding the Threat
The threat that someone will be struck by lightning depends on their behavior when thunderstorms are in the area.
The threat of lightning increases as a thunderstorm approaches, reaches a peak when the storm is overhead, and then gradually diminishes as the storm moves away. At the same time, it’s people’s behavior that determines the risk of a fatal lightning strike. While some people move inside at the first signs of a thunderstorm, many people wait far too long to get to a safe place. Some wait until the thunderstorm is overhead and it starts to rain. Others, due to poor planning, are caught outside and can’t get to a safe place.
Although most people get inside, some put themselves at risk by touching items that could become electrified by a nearby lightning strike. Finally, many people go outside too soon after the storm has seemingly passed, often only waiting for the rain to become lighter or end. It is all of these unsafe behaviors that put people at risk when thunderstorms are in the area.
Minimizing the Risk
To minimize your personal risk of being struck by lightning, when going outside, plan ahead so that you can get to a safe place quickly if a thunderstorm threatens. If the sky looks threatening or if you hear thunder, get inside a safe place immediately. Once inside, avoid contact with corded phones, electrical equipment, plumbing, and windows and doors. Finally, wait 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder before going back outside. If everyone followed those simple rules, the number of lightning casualties in this country could be greatly reduced.
Department heads will provide lightning safety awareness training to all employees who work outdoors. A warning method for each department to notify their employees should be developed, as a back-up, to ensure employees know when to seek shelter from lightning.
Remember, it is your behavior when thunderstorms are in the area that determines your personal risk of being struck by lightning. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
If someone is struck by lightning, they may need immediate medical attention. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch. Call 911 and monitor the victim. Start CPR and/or use an Automated External Defibrillator.
Perry Weather Lightning Warning System
Suspension of Activities-Take cover indoors away from windows if possible.
Lightning Warning Systems Locations
- SGP Field House
- Gopher Warrior Bowl Press Box
Lightning Warning System Activation
1. Audible horns attached to the warning systems sound when lightning is within a 10-mile radius of the location. This distance allows for suspension of practices, games, recess, PE, roof or grounds work by maintenance, or other outdoor activity and indicate movement to indoor safe areas is required. If you are close enough to either of the two stationary warning systems, you may here the horns, if outside.
- 3 horn blasts will sound announcing an active lightning event.
- While lightning is present and activities are delayed, a yellow strobe light on the warning device will flash
- A single long blast tone will sound the all clear.
2. Electronic alerts, SMS text messaging and emails, will be generated and sent to Emergency Management, Sports Medicine & appropriate athletic personnel, band directors, principals, assistant principals, and M&O supervision.