Between 1998 and 2007, 14 people died in Ohio as a result of being struck by lightning, according to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That makes our state the eighth highest in the nation. Florida had the greatest number of deaths during that period: 74. Nationwide last year, 45 people were struck and killed by lightning.
Don’t want to go out that way? You friendly Columbus bureaucrats have some helpful hints for you to keep you, your family and friends around to see another storm.
The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness did a “Lightning Safety Awareness Week” thing in June, but the information has a pretty long shelf life. So even though it's bright and sunny today, thunderstorms are always on the horizon this time of year.
The National Weather Service has a cute slogan that sums it up for the likes of 5-year-olds (“When thunder roars, go indoors!”) but other safety tips presented in a press release include:
Before Lightning Strikes
• Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening clouds, flashes of light or increasing wind. Listen for thunder.
• If you can hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning. Find safe shelter immediately.
When a Storm Approaches
• Find shelter in a building or vehicle. Keep the vehicle’s windows closed and avoid convertibles.
• Telephone (land lines) and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the phone, computer or electrical devices.
• Avoid taking a shower or bath or washing dishes. Water is an electrical conductor.
• Wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before going back outside.
If Caught Outside
• If you're in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
• If you're boating or swimming, get to land and find immediate shelter.
• If you can't find indoor shelter, find a low-lying open place away from trees, poles or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick isn't subject to flooding.
• Be a small target. Do not lie flat on the ground; squat low to the ground by putting your head to your knees and placing your hands either behind your head or on your knees.
If Someone Is Struck by Lightning
• People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
• Call 911 and get medical care immediately. Cardiac arrest, irregular heart beats, burns and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning.
• Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped, a trained person should administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). American Red Cross chapters and local fire departments often offer first aid and CPR classes.
— Margo Pierce