GEMA Urges Georgians to Stay Safe When Lightning Strikes
Ready Georgia campaign promotes lightning preparedness during Severe Weather Awareness Week
(ATLANTA) – Each year, lightning strikes the U.S. an estimated 25 million times and causes an average of 60 fatalities and 300 injuries each year. In Georgia alone, 11 people have died due to lightning strikes since 2006, which is why the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security is urging residents statewide to join them in observing Lightning Safety Day on Feb. 6.
Although lightning is more common during the warmer months of June through September, it can strike any time there is a thunderstorm – and to clear up confusion, it can indeed strike twice. National Weather Service research shows two-thirds of the recent lightning-related deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities.
As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, Georgians are encouraged to take time on Lightning Safety Day to learn basic safety rules and precautions in order to best protect themselves and their families. Here are some lightning-related tips from GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign:
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.
For more information on how to prepare for severe weather visit, www.ready.ga.gov or www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc or download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app. To learn 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.