I see lightning! Now what?

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Whether you’re new to Florida – known as the “Lightning Capital of the U.S.” – or a native, lightning is nothing to be nonchalant about.

Summer is the peak season for fun in Florida – from barbeques and the beach to sporting events. But it’s also the peak season for one of the deadliest weather phenomena – lightning. Since thunderstorms can pop up at any time, it’s important to have a plan.

Follow these tips to stay safe and aware:

  • If you hear thunder, the lightning is within ten miles. The shorter the time elapsed between when you see lightning and hear thunder, the closer the lightning.
  • Seek shelter in a house, large building, or automobile (but not a convertible).
  • The best shelter is a permanent building; small buildings or sheds are not safe. Vehicles with metal roofs are also safe, but don’t touch any metal surfaces and keep all windows closed.
  • Don’t seek shelter underneath canopies, small pavilions, or near trees. Standing under trees, in fact, accounts for 18 percent of lightning deaths and 13 percent of injuries.
  • If lightning is close and no building is nearby, crouch down and put your feet together. Place your hands over your ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder. Avoid being closer than fifteen feet to other people.
  • If you’re in water, get out as quickly as possible.
  • When outside during a thunderstorm avoid water. Boating, fishing, and other-related activities account for 13 percent of lightning deaths and 6 percent of injuries.
  • Avoid high ground. Seek shelter in the lowest area. Also, avoid open spaces. Open spaces, fields, and ballparks account for 28 percent of lightning deaths and 29 percent of lightning injuries.
  • Playing golf? Stop. Do not hold a metal golf club during a thunder or lightning storm. Take off golf shoes with metal spikes.
  • All metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, and power tools should not be used.
  • Stay away from utility poles and power lines.
  • Stay off bicycles, farm equipment, motorcycles, and golf carts.
  • If you’re indoors during a thunderstorm, avoid water and stay away from doors and windows. Do not use a landline telephone. Take off headsets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, and TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, sending shocks to inside equipment.

Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who don’t survive a strike. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available.

Visit www.tampaelectric.com/stormcenter or call (813)223-0800 or 1-888-223-0800 for more information.

Additional information:  Lightning Safety Awareness Week 2022 (weather.gov)