Lightning Safety: 5 Things You NEED to Know!
It was an odd event for Southern California, being in a drought and all, but this weekend, Venice Beach in Los Angeles, CA, saw a rare thunderstorm. Sadly, it wasn't all fun and games: 15 were injured and one person died from as many as 4 lightening strikes. Where was I when all of this happened? Luckily not at Venice Beach, but I was at the beach. I was about 40 miles down the coast. My girlfriend and I went to Treasure Island in Laguna Beach, CA to have breakfast and spend the day on the beach. What we weren't expecting, per the weather forecast, was rain, thunder or lightning. Though there was no lightning close enough to see, we did experience unanticipated clouds, rain and thunder. We eventually left, assuming the clouds wouldn't break anytime soon. This situation begs a serious question: should we have stayed at the beach? Here's 5 things you need to know about lightening.
- Lightning can cause electric currents across the top of the ground that can be lethal up to 100 feet away, so when a thunderstorm rolls in, go indoors.
- Lightning travels through rebar and metal wiring found in concrete walls and floors, so be sure to stay away from concrete and move into a non-concrete structure.
- Lightning travels through water, including water in plumbing pipes.
- Lightning can travel through electrical systems including: corded telephones, televisions and radios.
- Florida had more than two times as many lightning-related deaths than any other state between 2003-2012.
Obviously, we should have left the beach as soon as we heard thunder, rather than huddling under an umbrella. I feel like I learned all of this when I was a child, but I had definitely forgotten most of it. Yes, it seems like a no-brainer to not huddle under an umbrella, but the thunder wasn't close. However, that doesn't matter, because thunderstorms move quickly. No washing your hands during a thunderstorm? That I can honestly say I never knew. I'm glad I took the time to review the "do's-and don'ts" during a thunderstorm, and I hope you are too!
For more tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on staying safe during a thunderstorm, CLICK HERE.