Local News

Lightning Is A Serious Threat To Safety

Posted June 22, 2001

— You have likely noticed over the past few weeks that our beautiful days can be quickly interrupted with thunderstorms. Although lightning may stop the swing of your golf game, or put your yard work on the back burner, it is best not to mess with Mother Nature.

Max Dearing and Brian Oliver both survived being struck by lightning while playing golf a few years ago.

"It is about like getting slammed between two dumpsters going about 80 miles an hour," says Dearing. "Storm blew up, we took shelter, but it was not a good enough shelter, and it hit the shelter."

"We talk about fatalities, and that is a terrible thing, but lightning injuries can be long lasting," says Kermit Keeter of the National Weather Service.

"We have things like long-term memory problems, short-term memory problems I average about 3 hours of sleep a night," says Dearing.

Electrocution by lightning can affect people differently, much like another force of nature, tornados.

"Right across the street may be a perfectly untouched house, and right next door the house is destroyed, that is how the lightning affected us," says Oliver.

"Victims are not electrified themselves, they are safe, you can touch them and in fact they will probably need cpr, people do not die from burns, they die from cardiac arrest," says Keeter.

As soon as a thunderstorm approaches, you should seek shelter.

"Anything that would make you as small a target as possible relative to your surroundings," says Keeter.

Avoid tall isolated trees or buildings that do not have an adequate foundation.

"There is what they call the 30/30 rule. If it is 30 seconds from the time you see a flash until you hear the bang, you better get into a substantial building because your are not safe, then 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder, see the last flash of lightning, only then is it safe to go back out," says Dearing.

Here is an easy way to remember what to do: if you can see it, flee it. If you can hear it, fear it.

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