Summer time storm safety tips
When lightning strikes and thunder roars, go indoors!
PENSACOLA, Florida –This year, summer began on Thursday, June 21, but severe weather and summer thunderstorms didn’t wait until the solstice. Across Northwest Florida, thunderstorms and lightning have been a common daily occurrence this spring that can turn deadly or cause grave injury if not taken seriously.
Because of the threat to both lives and infrastructure, the National Weather Service has set aside June 24-30 as Lightning Safety Awareness week to help inform people of the proper precautions to take during severe weather outbreaks.
“During the summer months, along with the possible recent tropical storms like Alberto, pop-up thunder storms become more frequent,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We want to make sure our customers stay safe and aware of the dangers associated with these sometimes damaging and potentially deadly storms. The best course of action to take is If you hear thunder, immediately move indoors.”
According to the National Weather Service, lightning is one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States and something you never expect to happen to you. Like the two people in Panama City recently injured from lightning strikes during the same storm.
In Panama City, two 16-year old twin brothers were reportedly finishing their last few lawn-cutting jobs before heading out for vacation. With the threat of severe storms approaching, their dad called them to pack up their equipment and head home. And that’s when it happened.
The boys were heading inside from mowing when the early-morning storm struck. Walking one behind the other, the brother in the front heard a loud crash and turned to see the unthinkable—his twin lying on the ground, unresponsive after being struck by lightning. According to reports, a neighbor performed CPR on the high-school student until medical help arrived and transported him to the hospital.
Farther west near Rosemary Beach, William Young, a local landscaper, was talking with his supervisor waiting for the same storm to pass when he saw a bright flash then watched as current from the lightning traveled up the walls and floor and straight up his legs.
“I thought I was fine and the next minute I was hit,” said Young in an interview with the Panama City News Herald.
Young went to the emergency room as a precaution and while not injured, it underscores the dangers associated with thunderstorms. Although the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are only around 1 in 500,000, some factors can put you at greater risk. However, every year, lightning kills an average of 47 peoplein the United States and hundreds more are severely injured. This year alone for example, five people have already been killed by lightning, two of whom were in Florida, which has been named the “lightning strike capital” of the country, with more than 3,500 lightning strikes per day.
So how do you keep safe during a storm? Here are tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionto protect yourself if you are caught outdoors or lighting is close by:
Safety precautions outdoors
After the storm
If a storm causes damage, Gulf Power crews will restore power as quickly as it’s safe to work.
Remember these additional safety tips:
“Customers can keep updated on outages caused by storms through our mobile app,” added DelaHaya. “The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. Just search for ‘Gulf Power’ in iTunes or the Google Play Store.”
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