Lightning Safety 101
Submitted by Kirk Mathew
With the approach of summer, we will be spending more time outdoors. June 24th - 30th is Lightning Safety awareness week. NOAA's National Weather Service has discovered that 64 percent of lightning deaths since 2006 occurred while people were participating in leisure activities, with fishing topping the list at 26 deaths. Here are a few tips from NOAA.
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.
However, many times fishermen are out away from safe shelter and other forms of safety measures should be employed. If wading or fishing from the bank, moving away from the water is the first step. The fishing rod should be placed flat on the ground. If there are nearby trees, moving into the area of the shortest trees or brush may give some shelter. If no shelter is felt to be safe, the idea is to make yourself the smallest structure in the vicinity. Often, a ditch or depression can be found to get into. No matter where you decide to ride out the storm, the "Lightning Crouch" should be used to minimize the risk. This position consists of crouching down on the balls of the feet, placing the hands on the forehead and the elbows on the knees. This creates the smallest amount of contact with the ground and is felt to create a safer path for an electrical charge through the body should you be struck.