Sampson County has been hit with dangerous weather lately from tornados, straight winds, and thunderstorms. Make sure you are staying safe this summer from the outdoor weather. Summer begins on June 21 and, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), increases in lightning strikes begin this season. According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year. Lightning kills an average of 47 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured.
While the warm weather invites many outside activities, if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Take a moment during National Lighting Safety Awareness Week (June 18-24) to learn how to stay safe in a thunderstorm with tips from NWS.
· When thunder roars, go indoors – move inside a sturdy building or hard top vehicle with the windows up as soon as you hear thunder.
· Do not take shelter in small sheds, gazebos, dugouts, bleachers, under isolated trees, or a convertible automobile.
· Avoid open fields, the top of a hill, or a ridge top.
· Stay away from water, wet items — such as ropes, and metal objects — such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity.
· Stay indoors. Stay inside at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
· Do not touch anything plugged into an electrical outlet.
· Use a corded telephone only for emergencies; cordless and cellular phones are safe to use.
· Avoid contact with plumbing; do not wash your hands; and do not take a shower or bath.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips:
· Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
· Never lie flat on the ground.
· Never shelter under an isolated tree
· Never us a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
· Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
· Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
To learn how to prepare for a thunderstorm, visit the Ready campaign’s Thunderstorms page at www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning. This information was retrieved by the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) e-brief article.
Sydney Johnson is an Area Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached by calling the Sampson County Center at 910-592-7161 or by e-mail: Sydney_Johnson@ncsu.edu