Lightning can kill your child

Whenever there are big summer thunderstorms, you see lots of rain, high winds and lightning. The rain and wind are pretty harmless in most cases, but the lightning can be deadly. 100 or so people die every year when they are struck by lightning, and hundreds more are injured (they get hit by lightning and live to tell about it, but they may have pain and nerve problems for years).

Lightining is a surge of incredibly powerful, high voltage electricity. It starts in a cloud and heads toward the ground. It is looking for the tallest object possible to shorten the distance it has to travel to reach the ground. Lightning prefers metal, but it will accept trees, phone poles and even you, if you are the tallest thing around.

If you are lying on the ground or swimming in water when lightning strikes nearby, enough electrical energy can flow through your body to cause serious damage or death. That's why lifeguards will have you get out of the pool, and why you should not lie on the ground in a thunderstorm.

If your child is outside playing or swimming when lightning strikes, your child may be hit by lightning. To avoid a lightning injury, you should teach your child about lightning safety. You and your child should take the following steps.

Steps you can take

  • If at all possible, go inside during a thunderstorm. Going "inside" means, preferably, going inside a real builing rather than a picnic shelter or a tent (tents are especially bad because of the metal poles).

  • If you cannot make it inside, then a car is the next best option.

  • If a building or a car are not available, then you want to avoid tall objects. Stay away from trees (especially isolated ones), flag poles, metal fences, etc. since they act like lightning rods.

  • If you have an umbrella, get rid of it. Holding a metal rod in a lightning store is the WRONG thing to do.

  • If you find you are out in a field and you are the tallest object around, put your feet together and crouch down. Do not touch the ground with your hands. Do not lie on the ground, or electricity from a lightning bolt can flow from one end of your body to the other and cause serious damage. By crouching, the idea is to put your body into the smallest shape possible and prevent electicity from flowing through your chest.

  • If you are inside, stay off the phone (unless it is cordless) and avoid the shower/tub.

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