Life Times Newsletter

Summer 2006
Vol. 8, No. 3

If you hear it – you’re in danger!

Rebecca S. Blocker, MS
Housing & Environmental Design Specialist

If you hear thunder, lightning is near. Recently I heard the faint rumble of distant thunder from my window and suddenly, out of a blue sky…Kaboom! My house was hit by lightning! My ears rang, hair stood on end, circuit breakers tripped, but the only victims of the strike were the TVs. A surge protector is no match for a lightning strike!

If you hear thunder, you are in danger—even though it’s not raining. Most people are struck by lightning before or after the thunderstorm. Lightning kills more people in the U.S. than tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

Outdoor sports have the fastest rising lightning casualty rate! The National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports top activities for lightning deaths take place in open fields, under trees, participating in water-related activities, while golfing, in open vehicles, using telephone and radio equipment. To reduce your risk of injury or death, follow the 30/30 Rule and use the Flash-to-Bang Calculator.

The Flash-to-Bang Lightning Distance Calculator: If you see lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. Divide by 5. This is the distance in miles the lightning is away. Any distance less than 10 miles puts you in danger. Seek
shelter immediately.

Where should you go? There is no place outside that is safe in or near a thunderstorm!

The safest shelter is inside a building with wiring and plumbing.

An enclosed vehicle with metal roof and sides (automobile, van or school bus) is the next best alternative if no safe building is available.

For more information, contact University of Missouri Extension, or visit NOAA’s National Weather Service lightning safety web site:

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller