National Lightening Safety Awareness Week

Date: June 22, 2020

Tim Martin, CSP, CFPS, Senior Risk Control Consultant

Safety tips for lightning strikes

Many people know that lightning can be dangerous, but did you know that lightning is the number two weather-related killer in the country? With more than 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the U.S. each year, lightning can threaten your safety.

This year, June 21 marks the start of National Lightning Safety Awareness Weekan initiative started by the National Weather Service to shed light on the dangers of lightning.

For industries at the heart of the American economy, where a lot of work is completed outdoors, it’s the perfect time to brush up on safety practices to keep you and your workers as safe as possible.

Severe storm cells can develop year-round and at any time of day. When lightning strikes, you only have a few seconds of warning.

While only 10 percent of lightning strikes result in death, 90 percent sustain life-long injuries or disabilities. Memory loss, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness of joints, muscle weakness and depression are just a few of the lasting effects.

“When thunder roars, go indoors”

While lightning can be unpredictable, your safety plan shouldn’t be. There are several steps you can take to reduce getting struck by lightning.

  • Before leaving for jobs, construction workers should look at weather reports.
  • Know when to shut down jobs and take shelter.
  • Follow the 30/30 Rule. If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing the flash, lightning is close enough to pose a threat. After the storm ends, wait 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.  
  • If you can get inside, avoid running water or using landline phones, because electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. Additionally, consider installing surge protectors to protect appliances and electronic devices.

What to do if you can’t get indoors

Inevitably, some work is done in locations where getting indoors just isn’t an option, especially for workers in industries like forestry, construction, land improvement, oil and gas and more.

When you can’t take indoor shelter, use these tips to stay safe:

  • Take shelter in a vehicle.
  • Avoid open areas. Instead, go to a low point like a ravine or valley.
  • Avoid open water, and immediately get to land.
  • In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. Avoid tall isolated trees.
  • On a construction site, avoid elevated areas like bridges, do not stand close to equipment or cranes.

The chances of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are estimated to be 1 in 3,000, but can be reduced by taking proper safety precautions. At BITCO, our Risk Control Consultants are here to help you create safety plans and practices that help protect your workers.

To see what additional resources and safety tips BITCO Insurance Companies can provide for its insureds, please contact your Risk Control Consultant, or speak with an agent today.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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