All thunderstorms produce lightning, which can cause serious injury or even death if a person is struck. About 300 people are hurt and another 80 people are killed by lightning every year in the United States.
Residents should do the following to prevent possible injury during a thunderstorm:
Before Thunderstorms and Lightning:
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm
- Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder
Avoid the following:
- Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
- Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Anything metal – tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
During a Thunderstorm:
- In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
- In an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
- On open water, get to land and find shelter immediately.
- Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
After a Thunderstorm:
If you lose power and are using an alternate power source, like a gasoline-powered generator, it is important that you use your alternate power source safely. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas released by these sources and can be fatal. Some of the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic are the same as flu, including headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness. If members of a home are having these symptoms when they are home, but feel better when they are away from the home, there may be a CO problem. For more information on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning and safely using generators, go to www.ct.gov/dph/co.
If somebody is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 for medical help as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:
Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing and eyesight.
For more information on how to keep safe during a thunderstorm, please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website at http://www.fema.gov/hazard/thunderstorm/index.shtm.