Lightning is a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere or between the atmosphere and the ground. In the initial stages of development, air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges in the cloud and between the cloud and the ground; however, when the differences in charges becomes too great, this insulating capacity of the air breaks down and there is a rapid discharge of electricity that we know as lightning. There’s so much to learn about lightning.
Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year. Although most lightning occurs in the summer, people can be struck at any time of year. Lightning kills an average of 47 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured.
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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 United States. Below are tips on how to stay safe indoors and outdoors as well as brochures and other tools to teach lightning safety.
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
If you absolutely cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck with the following tips. But don’t kid yourself–you are NOT safe outside. Know the weather patterns of the area you plan to visit. For example, in mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon. Listen to the weather forecast for the outdoor area you plan to visit. The forecast may be very different from the one near your home. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms, stay inside