PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Severe Weather Awareness Week in Florida runs from January 27 through January 31.
The first topic is all about lightning.
Of course, Florida is no stranger to lightning. On average, 1.2 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are reported in Florida each year. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), no other state has more lightning per square mile.
As you might expect, Florida usually has the most number of deaths from lightning. Typically five to ten people die each year, but it varies. Nationwide an average of 29 people died from lightning in the last decade. However, 16 people died in 2017, which is the fewest in more than a decade. NWS attributes this decline to more awareness and education about lightning.
Most people in Florida are struck while near or on a body of water. People who stand under trees or in an open field like a golf course are also at risk because lightning tends to strike the tallest object.
According to recent studies, boys between the ages of ten and 19 are the most likely group to be killed by lightning possibly because they spend a lot of time outdoors.
That's why if you hear thunder, you should go inside and stay away from windows because you're technically close enough to get struck.
A darkening cloud building in the sky is often the first sign that lightning could occur. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Check your local forecast at https://t.co/MeuNk0ZdYL before outdoor activities. pic.twitter.com/FshfdqDmry— Florida SERT (@FLSERT) January 22, 2018
It's recommended you wait 30 minutes until after you hear the last rumble of thunder to head back outside. A lot of injuries occur with the first or the last lightning strike when it's not even raining.
Emergency Managers recommend signing up for your county's emergency notification system. They say make you enter your address to get all the messages for your specific area. Visitors in Bay County can text Alert Bay to 888777 to get emergency notifications until they opt out.
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