Lightning kills over 50 people in the U.S. Each year. It also inflicts devastating, life-long, debilitating injuries on many more. While lightning strike frequencies are highest in the Southeast, Midwest, and the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains, all states have some lightning threat. Fortunately, most of these lightning deaths and injuries can be easily avoided, according to the National Weather Service.
From 2005 through 2012, there have been 12 fatalities from lightning in Pennsylvania.
No place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. Use the weather forecast to plan your outdoor activities to avoid the threat. The forecast from your local National Weather Service office can be found through www.nws.noaa.gov. The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is inside a house or other fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing. Once inside, stay away from corded telephones, electrical appliances and plumbing. Don’t watch lightning while standing near windows or in doorways.
If you can’t get to a house, a vehicle with a metal roof and metal sides is a good second choice. Don’t wait for rain to go inside. As soon as you hear thunder, get to a safe place. Stay inside for 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder.
If you absolutely cannot get to a safe building or vehicle, at least move away from elevated places, open areas such as sports fields, beaches, golf courses, tall isolated objects like trees. Avoid water, swimming, boating, fishing and beaches. Do NOT go under trees to keep dry during a thunderstorm!
For more information on lightning safety, visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.