What are the dangers of lightning?

Monday is Day 1 of Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week

Published On: Jan 30 2012 12:59:15 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 30 2012 06:46:47 PM EST

In cooperation with the National Weather Service, state and local emergency management agencies and the American Red Cross, the week of Jan. 30-Feb. 3 has been proclaimed Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week. This week is designed to teach Floridians about the dangers of the different types of hazardous weather found in Florida.

If you live in Florida, you no doubt know where the lightning belt sits in the Sunshine State.  Reports show that the highest frequency of cloud–to-ground lightning is between Tampa and Orlando. Mainly, this occurs during the wet season in the summer where we have abundant moisture, high surface temps leading to sea breeze development.  It is then that the radar lights up with lightning strikes across the state.

Being outdoors when thunderstorms are nearby involves risk and certain locations are worse than others.  Of the lightning casualty cases in the United States in which the location of the incident was reported, about 48 percent occurred in open fields, ballparks or playgrounds. Another 23 percent occurred under trees, about 12 percent involved water-related activities and about 6 percent involved golfing. People driving farm equipment or other heavy equipment accounted for about 7 percent.

To minimize the threat of being struck by lightning while outdoors, it is important to know when the lightning threat begins to increase significantly and when the threat is reduced to minimal levels. In general, the threat begins well before most people think it begins and ends well after people think it ends. Unfortunately, it is this lack of understanding that accounts for many lightning casualties. By using some basic rules, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty:

Stay safe with these helpful tools.