Archived Story

Police outline tips for lightning safety

Published 9:27am Thursday, June 26, 2014

LANSING — The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) reminds Michiganders to think about lightning safety during Lightning Safety Awareness Week from June 22 to 28.

Summer is the peak season for lightning strikes. On average, 53 people are killed and hundreds are severely injured each year due to lightning. To date in 2014, the National Weather Service reports seven people have died due to lightning-related injuries nationwide, including a 32-year-old man who died in Pittsfield Township on June 18.

“No place is safe outside when a thunderstorm occurs,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “People often wait far too long to get to a safe place when a storm approaches. The best way to be safe from lightning is to avoid the threat and immediately find an indoor shelter.”

To stay safe from lightning during a thunderstorm:

• Plan evacuation and safety measures. At the first sign of lightning or thunder, activate your emergency plan. Lightning often precedes rain, so do not wait for rain to begin before suspending activities. Although no place is absolutely safe from lightning, some places are much safer than others.

• Find suitable shelter immediately. The safest location during lightning activity is a large, enclosed building. The second-safest location is an enclosed metal-topped vehicle, but not a convertible, bike or other topless or soft-top vehicle.

• Protect yourself indoors by avoiding water, doors, windows and using a corded device. Lightning could strike exterior wires, potentially causing shock or injury. Any item plugged into an electrical outlet may be a hazard.

• Do not resume outdoor activities until 30 minutes after the last observed lightning strike or thunder roar.

Injured persons do not carry an electrical charge and can be assisted safely. If qualified to do so, apply first aid procedures to a lightning victim. Call 911 or send for help immediately.

For more information about being safe before, during and after an emergency or disaster, go to www.michigan.gov/beprepared or www.twitter.com/MichEMHS.

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