What to Do When Thunderstorms Strike

By EGP & CNS

With thunderstorms still possible in the Southland, and in the aftermath of a fatal lightning strike at Venice Beach, county officials issued a series of storm safety tips today.

The county Office of Emergency Management noted that when a thunderstorm is occurring, nowhere outdoors is safe from possible lightning strikes, so people should seek shelter.

If you can hear the thunder, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assoc., you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightening.

Keep in mind that lightening often strikes the tallest object, so when outdoors, don’t stand up straight, make yourself appear smaller by crouching and don’t stand near the tallest object in the area.

OEM and NOAA officials recommended:

—Seek shelter indoors when a storm occurs, remembering that small outdoor buildings such as dugouts, rain shelters and sheds are not safe. People should move to a substantial building with wiring and plumbing.

—If thunder is audible, there is danger of a lightning strike.

—Once inside, stay away from windows, doors and anything that conducts electricity, such as corded telephones, computers and other electronic equipment.

—Electrical charges in clouds can linger following a storm, so people should wait at least 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.

—People should also avoid plumbing fixtures, such as sinks, baths and faucets.

—If stuck outside, avoid elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.

—Don’t use trees, cliffs or overhangs as shelter.

—Stay away from water, including swimming pools, ponds, lakes or other bodies of water.

—Avoid any objects that conduct electricity, such as power lines and wire fences. Get rid of metal items on you body such as coins, jewelry, money clips, hairpins, etc.

You may have heard that wearing rubber soled shoes or holding on to your auto’s tires will protect you, well it’s a myth. Another fallacy is that lightening never strikes twice in the same place: in fact, there are numerous documented cases of multiple lightening strikes in the same place.

Additional tips are available from the National Weather Service online at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/.

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July 28, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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