Entries in Lightning (5)


Lightning Safety 101: Tips for Protecting You and Your Family

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service, offered this advice for staying safe when there is a threat of lightning:

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities, but being outdoors when a thunderstorm is in the area puts you at risk of becoming a lightning victim. Lightning can strike 10 miles from a thunderstorm and if you hear thunder, you’re likely within striking distance of the storm. If you plan to be outdoors, here are some tips that could save your life.

Before Going Out:

  • Listen to the forecast and consider canceling or postponing activities if thunderstorms are predicted.
  • Know where you’ll go for safety in case a thunderstorm develops.

While Outside:

  • Monitor weather conditions and seek shelter at the first sign of a developing or approaching storm.
  • If you hear thunder, immediately get inside a substantial building (one with wiring and plumbing) or hard-topped metal vehicle.
  • If you can’t get inside, never shelter under a tree or other tall objects that could increase your risk of being struck.

While Inside:

  • Avoid contact with anything that is plugged into the wall, such as appliances and computers.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, tubs, and showers.
  • Stay off corded phones.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last thunder before returning outside.

If Someone Is Struck:

  • Victims do not carry an electrical charge and may need immediate medical help.
  • Call 911 for help.
  • Monitor the victim and begin CPR or use an AED if necessary.

Remember, there is no safe place outside when a thunderstorm is in the area.  When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


6 Tips and Myths About Lightning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the summer's crazy weather brought another weekend of deadly lightning strikes, this time at a Pennsylvania auto racing event, Americans are reminded of the myths surrounding the dramatic and dangerous spectacle of Mother Nature as well as tips to keep safe.

Severe weather left one NASCAR fan dead and nine injured this weekend after lightning struck behind the stands at Pennsylvania's 400 Sprint Cup Race at the Pocono Raceway near Scranton.

"When things started to clear up all we saw was a camping tent destroyed and two bodies on the ground," racing fan Kyle Manger told ABC News.

A severe storm warning had been issued about 45 minutes before the strike, and fans had been advised over the public address system and through social media to take cover.

Here are three tips -- and three myths -- about lightning, should you encounter a severe weather situation, with or without similar warnings.


1. Seek shelter in a large enclosed building. Lightning will travel through the wiring or plumbing of the building -- into the ground and away from you.
"Half the people that die from lightning strikes in the U.S. this year were standing under trees and the other half were out in open fields," chief meteorologist for KTRK, Tim Heller, told ABC News.

2. Do not use a corded telephone or anything plugged into the wall. Lightning can travel through wiring and plumbing -- so even if you're indoors, you must still be cautious.

3. Stay away from sinks, tubs and showers. And if going inside isn't an option, seek shelter in a car with a hard top. That way, even if the car is struck by lightning, it will travel through the metal of the car and down into the ground, away from you.


1. Lightning never strikes the same place twice. False! Take the Empire State Building for example -- it gets struck around 25 times each year.

2. If it isn't raining, you don't have to worry about lightning. That's not true either. Lightning can travel up to 25 miles from a storm. So even if the storm seems far away, lightning may still be a threat.

3. You're safer if you lay flat or get close to the ground. People used to think that getting low to the ground meant you were less likely to be struck by lightning. But that's not true either. It doesn't matter how tall you are, if you're not indoors, you're at risk.

So bottom line, go inside if you see lightning -- no matter how close you may think it is.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lightning Paralyzes Woman inside Her House

Comstock/Thinkstock(PLYMOUTH, Mass.) -- It's not unusual for the Plymouth, Mass., Fire Department to get a call about a lightning strike. But the call that came in from Carver Road in Plymouth last weekend was a little bit different. A woman reported being hit by lightning even though she had been sitting inside her house and the house itself wasn't hit -- she complained of paralysis in her legs and was transported to a local hospital.

"We didn't find any evidence of damage to the house...but there were numerous strikes in the area that day," Plymouth Deputy Fire Chief Michael Young said.

Everyone knows that a direct lightning strike can result in serious injury, even death. But the catastrophic consequences of an indirect lightning strike are not as well known.

Indirect lightning is defined as lightning that strikes one place but "induces consequences remotely" said Richard Kithil of the National Lighting Safety Institute, a Denver-based group.

"Random, unpredictable and arbitrary" are the hallmarks of a lightning strike, according to Kithil, who has spent years educating the public on the dangers of lightning strikes. Kithil said statistics show that lightning is the number two storm killer in the United States, right behind floods, and it's 2,000 times more likely that indirect lightning will cause some "mischief" rather than a direct strike, Kithil said.

A relatively common occurrence is when lightning strikes a power line, gets into the electrical system and a body becomes part of the electrical current path as the current runs through the house along a telephone line or a computer wire.

A typical lightning shock delivers 300 kilovolts of electricity in just a few milliseconds. And, while most people survive, the physical consequences of an indirect lightning strike can be devastating.

Dr. Robert Riviello, a surgeon in Boston's Brigham and Women's trauma, burn and critical care unit, said he has seen a handful of patients over the years who have been victims of indirect lightning strikes and they often have cardiac and neurological issues.

"We see a range of injuries including arrhythmias," he said. "I have seen temporary paralysis in one patient several years. The electricity can run in and out of your system by way of your spinal cord...although in my patient the paralysis lasted less than a day."

Lightning strikes most often between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Florida is the state with the most recorded injuries and deaths from lightning.

If there is lightning storm moving through your area there are some ways to protect yourself. Move away from trees and hilltops and head to lower ground. Get into a car if you can, because if lightning hits, the metal exterior will conduct the electricity leaving anyone on the inside relatively safe.

If you happen to be inside your house or business, that doesn't mean you're automatically safe.

"Don't touch anything that might become a conductor, including water, electrical appliances, computers, metal sliding doors or window sills," said Kithil, who added that Benjamin Franklin once said the only absolutely safe place to go in a lightning storm is "inside sitting in a silk hammock reading a good book."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Father and Son Both Victims of Lightning, 48 Years Apart

Ablestock/Thinkstock(HAMMONTON, N.J.) -- A New Jersey man followed the tragic fate of his own father 48 years ago when he was struck dead by lightning during a weekend barbecue with his family.

On Thursday, family members said 500 people from the tight-knit Hammonton, N.J. community attended the funeral to mourn the death of Stephen Rooney, 54, who was "well-known" and a "real nice guy," according to the town's Chief of Police Robert Jones.

On July 3, Rooney, and 25 members of his extended family took part in the "normal Fourth of July kind of antics," at a weekend barbecue -- a 30-year family tradition at Rooney's residence at 59 Plymouth Road.

As was customary, the family set up their picnic around a tree that was "two and a half, at least three stories tall" when storm clouds rolled in. Rooney's cousin Scott Digerolamo who attended the picnic said, "A bunch of ladies and kids went inside and five of us stayed outside to smoke a cigar." When family members implored the men to come inside the house, Rooney assured them that "lightning never strikes the same family twice."

Minutes later Rooney snuck behind the tree to light his cigar when the tree was struck by a bolt of lightning.

After local medical personnel attempted CPR, Rooney was flown to University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia where he died five days later on July 8.

Forty-eight years ago, the same fate befell his father.

Rooney was 6 years old when his father went fishing by himself in Fortescue, N.J.

"When he got out of the water, he started cleaning the fish with his knife," Digerolamo said. "The knife was like a conductor -- the lightning directly struck the knife."

The senior Rooney was killed immediately.

According to Steven Hodanish, senior meteorologist in Pueblo, Colorado at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service, lightning can strike the same place twice.

According to NOAA's National Weather Service, 55 victims of lightning strikes die on average in the United States each year. Hodanish said that the victims tend to be male because they are typically outside and "young men tend to be more, 'it won't happen to me' so to speak, so they won't seek safety as early as they should."

While taller structures are usually hit by lightning during a storm, Hodanish emphasized that people should move indoors during a thunderstorm or to the nearest vehicle with a metal top.

"Stay away. Don't even seek shelter near trees," he said. "It sounds simple but when thunder roars, go indoors."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lightning Safety: Men Struck Many More Times Than Women

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Men, that last game of touch football is just not worth it during an approaching storm -- especially when you risk being hit by 200,000 to 300,000 volts of lightning.

Of 648 people killed by lightning in the United States from 1995 to 2008, 82 percent were male, according to This year, there have been six lightning-related deaths -- all male.

According to Popular Science magazine, recreational activities or sports are involved in almost half of all lightning-related deaths. Of this year's fatalities, one man was playing golf on a course in Shreveport, La., and another was playing baseball in an open field in Ruby, S.C.

"Men take more risks when it comes to lightning," said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist of the National Weather Service, "and men tend to have more outside jobs."

Jensenius said that men being struck by lightning more than women was a behavioral issue.

"Men don't wish to be inconvenienced by a nearby thunderstorm," he said. "Lightning safety is an inconvenience but at the same time, it's one you can live with." He said the National Weather Service's Lightning Safety program works very hard to lower lightning fatalities every year. "It's all very sad," he said of the victims. "It's the same problem every year."

"It really doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, you need to be inside when there's a thunderstorm in the area."

Jensenius cautioned that July was the deadliest month in terms of lightning across the United States because of a peak in lightning activity and an increase in outdoor summertime activities.

July averages 18 lightning fatalities a year and Jensenius warned that Fourth of July weekend is traditionally one of the most deadly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio