South Florida has the highest rate of lightning injuries and deaths in the country. Learning these five lesser-known tips could help keep you safe as summer storms roll-in.
August on the Treasure Coast means back to school, the start of football season, and severe afternoon thunderstorms. With hot temperatures and high humidity, August is the most active month for lightning on the Treasure Coast. On average, there are 3,500 lightning flashes per day.
While most Treasure Coast residents know to seek shelter when thunderstorms appear, a survey reveals that many people don’t know what to do when they are trapped outside during a storm.
Whether you’re at the beach, on a boat, playing golf, or simply somewhere without shelter, follow these five lightning safety tips to help keep you safe.
1. If you have to move across sand to get to shelter, crawl on all fours.
Lightning is attracted to the highest objects in the area. Since shorelines on the Treasure Coast are often bare (i.e. no trees, telephone poles, etc.), this makes traveling across sand particularly dangerous during a lightning storm. Experts recommend crawling quickly on all fours until you reach a safer location. This will help reduce your risk of being struck.
2. Place your cellphone and car keys 100 feet away from you
If you are carrying car keys (or house keys) or a cell phone, place them at least 100 feet away from you. These metal and electrical items can attract lightning and conduct electricity. If you can’t remember where you put your keys and phone, use the “Find My iPhone” or “Find My Device” to locate them.
3. Spread out from others in your group
This is very important. Don’t huddle together with others in your group. This is because lightning can strike one person and then spread along the ground to hit people that are close. The CDC recommends a minimum of 20 feet between each person.
4. Get in the “lightning position”
Never lie flat on the ground. This increases your chance of being electrocuted by a ground current. Instead get into the “lightning position.”
To get into “lightning position,” stop, squat (or sit) and ball yourself up so you are as low as possible. Wrap your arms around your legs or put your hand over your ears to protect your ears from thunder. Close your eyes and keep your feet together at the heels. To minimize contact to the ground, try to stay on the balls of your feet as long as possible if crouching.
SPECIFICALLY FOR BOATERS
5. If you’re caught in a storm while on the water, follow these steps to minimize your chance of being struck or seriously injured if there is a strike.
- If possible, find a protected area out of the wind and drop anchor.
- If the boat has an enclosed cabin, people should be directed to go inside and stay well away from metal objects, electrical outlets and appliances (it’s a good idea to don life jackets too).
- Lower antennas, towers, fishing rods and outriggers, unless they’re part of a designated lightning-protection system.
- Under no circumstances should the VHF radio be used during an electrical storm unless it’s an emergency (handhelds are OK).
- Do not grab two metal objects, like a metal steering wheel and metal railing. This can be a deadly spot to be if there’s a strike. Some boaters opt to steer with a wooden spoon and keep their other hand in a pocket if forced to man the helm during a storm. Others like to wear rubber gloves for insulation.
- If you’re in an open boat, since you are the highest point and most likely to get hit if the boat is struck, the advice is to drop anchor, remove all metal jewelry, put on life jackets and get low in the center of the boat.
Do your part, #HTLLTellAFriend
Help keep your friends and family safe by sharing these safety tips. As part of our new #HTLLTellAFriend safety campaign, Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd shares quick tips to educate people on everyday dangers and lesser-known safety tips.
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