SEATTLE, Wash. -- Observed the last full week of June, National Lightning Safety Awareness Week not only helps get safety messages out in time for the Fourth of July, but also signals summer as lightning season. Outside is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning or thunderstorm, and more people are outside during the summer. According to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, lightning strikes and high winds associated with thunderstorms also increase the risk of wildfires.
"Summer is wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest, and those of us who live in urban interface areas, wooded lots, or near heavily-grassed and dry rangeland should create fire-safe perimeters and update family disaster plans," said Murphy. "Lightning can strike up to ten miles away from any rainfall and can create hotspots that smolder for days, bursting into flame when conditions are right."
Lightning accounts for more average deaths per year than tornados. "The safest place to be during lightning activity is a large enclosed building, not a picnic shelter or shed," said Murphy. "The second safest location is an enclosed metal vehicle, car, van, etc., but not a convertible, bike or other topless or soft top vehicle. If caught outdoors and no shelter is nearby, stay away from tall trees. If there is no shelter, crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from a tree as it is tall."
Lightning safety tips for inside the home include:
- Avoid contact with corded phones.
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
- Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands; do not take a shower; do not wash dishes; and do not do laundry.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
For more information on lightning safety, visit: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov. For wildfire preparedness tips, sample preparedness plans and emergency checklists, visit http://firewise.org/ or www.fema.gov.
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