Lightning Safety Awareness Week

This week is lightning safety awareness week. With Florida being the lightning capital of the U.S. it is always a good idea to brush up on safety tips to keep you and your family out of danger.

The sunshine state is the lightning capital of the U.S. and the 2nd leading country in the world when it comes to lightning.  While central Florida seeing the most lightning flashes per square mile we see more than our fair share here in NWFL.

Looking at lightning fatalities across the state between 1959-2003 you can see our area has had 37 fatalities or around 1 per year. 

  • The odds of getting struck by lightning in the U.S. in any single year is 1 in 700,000.
  • The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 5,000.


It is important to know that with a few basic safety tips you can keep your family safe.  The most basic rule of thumb is... 'If you can hear thunder roar, head indoors.'

Use ‘The 30-30 RULE’ to determine the threat of lightning in your area.

  • 30 Seconds:
    Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If this time is less than 30 seconds, lightning is still a potential threat. Seek shelter immediately.
  • 30 Minutes:
    After hearing the last thunder, wait 30 minutes before leaving shelter. Half of all lightning deaths occur after the storm passes. Stay in a safe area until you are sure the threat has passed.

If someone is struck by lightning, what should you do?

In the event that a person is struck by lightning, medical care may be needed immediately to save the person's life. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch and help. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. With proper treatment, most victims survive a lightning strike.

  • Call 911. Provide directions and information about the lightning strike and victim(s).
  • Give first aid. Do not delay CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing.
  • If possible, move the victim to a safer place. Lightning can strike twice. Don’t become a victim.

Remember to use common sense when it comes to any weather threat!

Next week we will take a look at the tropics and how things are shaping up for the month of July.


Chris Smith
Chief Meteorologist, WJHG-TV

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