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Forecast Calls for Lots of Lightning, So Stay Aware

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health

Lightning is a fact of life here in Southwest Florida. But Lee Health and its community partners remind you not to get complacent.

With plenty of beachgoers, tourists, outdoor activities, jobs, and youth sports – our community has to be on guard and pay close attention to encroaching storms and the possibility of lightning.

Hear thunder? Time to move.
Most people are struck by lightning before it starts raining or after it stops raining. Don’t stay outside just because the rain hasn’t come down yet. When it roars, go indoors.

Find a safe, enclosed shelter such as a home, office, shopping center, or a hard-top vehicle with the windows rolled up.

Be aware
Check the weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your event or make sure adequate safe shelter is readily available.

Caught in the open?

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks.
  • Never lie flat on the ground. Crouch down in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ears so that you are down low with minimal contact with the ground.
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree.
  • Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, etc.).

Working outdoors or taking part in youth sports?

  • Identify who makes the call to remove players from the field.
  • Designate a weather watcher to monitor the skies.
  • Identify a safe building to use if lightning begins.
  • DO NOT evacuate to open structures, including picnic, park, sun, bus, rain and shelters, as well as storage sheds, tents, dugouts, refreshment stands, screened porches, press boxes and open garages.
  • DON’T resume activities until 30 minutes after the last strike of lightning is seen and the last sound of thunder is heard.

30-30 Rule

30 Seconds: Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If this time is less than 30 seconds, lightning is still a potential threat. Seek shelter.

30 Minutes:  After the last lightning flash, wait 30 minutes before leaving the shelter. Half of all lightning deaths occur after the storm passes. Stay in a safe area until you are sure the threat has passed.

When thunder roars, go indoors!

If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, get to a safe place immediately. Thunderstorms always include lightning. Any thunder you hear is caused by lightning!

NOAA advises that nowhere outside is safe when thunderstorms are in your area.

OSHA and NOAA recommend that employers and supervisors follow these lightning safety best practices for workers whose jobs involve working outdoors:

Check NOAA Weather Reports: Before beginning any outdoor work, employers and supervisors should check NOAA weather reports ( and radio forecasts for all weather hazards. OSHA recommends that employers consider rescheduling jobs to avoid workers being caught outside in hazardous weather conditions.

When working outdoors, supervisors and workers should continuously monitor weather conditions. Watch for darkening clouds and increasing wind speeds, which can indicate developing thunderstorms. Pay close attention to local television, radio, and Internet weather reports, forecasts, and emergency notifications regarding thunderstorm activity and severe weather.

Seek Shelter in Buildings: Employers and supervisors should know and tell workers which buildings to go to after hearing thunder or seeing lightning. NOAA recommends seeking out fully enclosed buildings with electrical wiring and plumbing. Remain in the shelter for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder.

Vehicles as Shelter: If safe building structures are not accessible, employers should guide workers to hard-topped metal vehicles with rolled up windows. Remain in the vehicle for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder.

How do you treat a lightning strike victim?

There is no need to worry about getting an electric shock from the victim. The flow of electricity traveled through the victim and there is no charge that is stored.  Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die, so first aid, and CPR are likely to be needed immediately.

 In the event of a lightning strike the following steps should be taken to ensure your safety and to treat the appropriate people:

  1. Make sure the scene is safe to treat the lightning victims. You should not place yourself in harm if danger is imminent.
  2. Activate EMS (or have someone else activate EMS if you are the one providing care).
  3. Be prepared to treat people in cardiac arrest, have severe burns, shock, fractures, and other trauma.
    1. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator, if one is available, as well as other basic first aid materials.
  4. Treat the victim that appears most severely injured first (if there is more than one victim). This victim is in the worst condition and timely care needs to be taken to maximize chances of survival.
    1. The basic principle of triage, “treat the living first” should be reversed in patients struck by lightning.
  5. If needed and capable move the victim to a safe area for treatment