GEMA’s Ready Georgia offers tips to help residents prepare for lightning during Severe Weather Awareness Week
(ATLANTA) – Lightning is a common occurrence in Georgia, and it’s easy to forget just how dangerous it can be. But, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), it is the No. 3 weather-related killer in the state. Thursday, Feb. 7 is Lightning Safety Day, and Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA), and NWS encourage all Georgians to take precautions to avoid being struck by lightning.
Throughout Severe Weather Awareness Week, officials are encouraging Georgians to take one simple action each day to get prepared. During Lightning Safety Day, they recommend learning the 30/30 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.
Lightning strikes the ground 25 million times each year in the United States, and all too often the consequences are deadly. An average of 55 people are killed each year in the United States and approximately 300 people are injured.
Lightning occurs mostly during the warmer months of June through September, but it can strike at any time there is a thunderstorm. It has the potential to travel more than 10 miles away from a thunderstorm, and yes, it can strike twice.
When you are outdoors, be aware of current local weather forecasts. Always stay alert for signs of approaching thunderstorms. Here are more lightning safety tips:
Before Lightning Strikes
- Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
- Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts, or download the Ready Georgia mobile app.
When a Storm Approaches
- Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
- Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
- Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any purpose.
- Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
- Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will help prevent glass from shattering into your home.
If Caught Outside
- If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
- If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
Protect Yourself Outside
- Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
- Be a very small target. Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.
- Do not lie flat on the ground. This will make you a larger target.
After the Storm Passes
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
- Listen to the radio or television for information and instructions.
If Someone is Struck by Lightning
- People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
- Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency medical services (EMS) number.
- The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Check for burns in both places. Being struck by lightning can also cause nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or eyesight.
- Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, someone trained in CPR should begin chest compressions. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries. Learn first aid and CPR by taking an American Red Cross first aid and CPR course; call your local Red Cross chapter for class schedules and fees.
To help families prepare, Ready Georgia, a statewide emergency preparedness campaign established by GEMA offers the tools needed to make an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Visitors to Ready Georgia’s website, www.ready.ga.gov, can create an online profile to receive a tailored plan for the entire family that includes the specific amount of supplies to put in their household Ready kits. They can also find local emergency contact information, learn about Georgia-specific disasters and read preparedness testimonials from local sports stars. Children’s games and activities can be found on the ReadyKids page, and households with elderly or disabled family members and pets will also find specific information on preparing for severe weather. For preparedness on the go, families can also download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app to learn how to prepare for emergencies, create family communications plans and more.
For more information on how to prepare for severe weather, visit these websites: www.ready.ga.gov, www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc, www.gema.ga.gov. For more information about specific risks in your area, contact your local emergency management agency.
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About Ready Georgia
Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign. Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive Web site, online community toolkit, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.
Andrew McElhannon is the Member Services Coordinator for the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia www.iiag.org, and can be contacted at: email@example.com or b y phone at 770-458-0093, x.110, or 800-878-6487.