Be aware of lightning strikes during summer storms

Lightning strikes

Summer thunderstorms can rapidly develop with dangerous cloud to ground lightning strokes.

SWEPCO and the National Safety Council recommend important safety measures if encountering lightning during these storms.

• The most dangerous place to be during a storm is in an open area — a field, golf course, on a boat or in the water. When you are swimming or in a boat, you are surrounded by water, which is a very good conductor. Get out of and away from all water sources when a storm approaches. During storms (or even when the skies begin to look threatening, since lightning often strikes during the calm before a storm) stay off hilltops and out of open fields. Golf courses and baseball fields are extremely dangerous places to be in a storm.

• When seeking refuge, choose it carefully — bad shelters can be worse than no shelter at all. Seeking shelter under a tree might seem like a good idea, but it’s not. Trees are tall and attract lightning.

• When caught in a storm, get rid of all metal objects such as golf clubs, fishing rods and aluminum baseball bats. Get off golf carts and bicycles. Stay away from conductors of electricity such as wire fences, power lines, clotheslines, metal pipes and railroad tracks.

• A large, grounded or steel-framed building is the best place to be in an electrical storm. A metal top car or truck with closed windows is also safe because the vehicles’ frame will deflect a lightning charge to the ground.

• A common misconception is that you are safe from lightning once inside a house. The home is full of objects that act as conductors. Keep away from windows, fireplaces, stoves, sinks, bathtubs and plugged-in electrical appliances.

• If you are caught in a field or golf course far from adequate shelter and your hair begins to stand on end, you may be about to be struck by lightning. Immediately drop to your knees, bend forward and place your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat. This position, although providing a higher profile than lying flat, has the advantage of minimum contact with the earth.

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