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Lightning Safety and Awareness Part 3:

Kind of an interesting subject... Indoor Lightning Safety.  People that have computers, big screen tv's, and other household electronics always think about saving those objects.  But what about saving your own life ?  Read below...

Indoor Lightning Safety

THE WEEK OF JUNE 22ND THROUGH JUNE 28TH IS COLORADO LIGHTNING SAFETY AND WILDFIRE AWARENESS WEEK.  THIS PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT WILL DISCUSS SAFE SHELTERS AND INDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY.

STATISTICS TELL US THAT WE ARE MUCH LESS LIKELY TO BECOME A LIGHTNING VICTIM IF WE REMAIN INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL STRUCTURE SUCH AS A HOME OR OFFICE BUILDING WHEN THUNDERSTORMS ARE NEARBY.  MOST PEOPLE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING ARE IN OPEN AREAS SUCH AS BALL FIELDS...RECREATION AREAS...GOLF COURSES OR OUT ON WATER...WHILE OTHERS ARE STRUCK WHEN NEAR SOME TYPE OF MACHINERY.  HOWEVER...A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE ARE KILLED OR INJURED BY LIGHTNING EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE INDOORS...SO IT IS IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS INDOOR LIGHTNING SAFETY THIS WEEK. 

A HOUSE OR OTHER SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OFFERS THE BEST PROTECTION FROM LIGHTNING BECAUSE IT OFTEN CONTAINS A MECHANISM FOR CONDUCTING THE ELECTRICAL CURRENT FROM THE POINT OF CONTACT TO THE GROUND.  METAL GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS...ELECTRICAL WIRING...PLUMBING AND TELEPHONE LINES ALL ACT AS CONDUCTORS TO HELP GROUND THE LIGHTNING STRIKE. 

SMALL STRUCTURES TYPICALLY DO LITTLE TO PROTECT OCCUPANTS FROM LIGHTNING. MANY SMALL OPEN SHELTERS ON ATHLETIC FIELDS...GOLF COURSES...PARKS...ROADSIDE PICNIC AREAS...SCHOOLYARDS AND ELSEWHERE ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM RAIN AND SUN...BUT NOT LIGHTNING.  SMALL WOOD...VINYL OR METAL SHEDS SHOULD ALSO BE AVOIDED DURING THUNDERSTORMS. 

LIGHTNING TYPICALLY ENTERS HOMES AND BUILDINGS VIA EITHER A DIRECT STRIKE...THROUGH WIRES OR PIPES THAT EXTEND OUTSIDE THE STRUCTURE...THROUGH THE GROUND...OR THROUGH AN OPEN DOOR OR WINDOW.  REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF ENTRANCE...ONCE IN A STRUCTURE...LIGHTNING CAN TRAVEL THROUGH THE ELECTRICAL...PHONE...PLUMBING AND RADIO/TELEVISION RECEPTION SYSTEMS AND ALSO THROUGH METAL WIRES OR BARS IN CONCRETE WALLS OR FLOORING.  KNOWING THIS INFORMATION CAN HELP US MINIMIZE OUR RISK OF BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE INDOORS.

PHONE USE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF INDOOR LIGHTNING INJURIES IN THE UNITED STATES.  THIS APPLIES MAINLY TO CORDED PHONES ALTHOUGH IT IS POSSIBLE TO BECOME INJURED WHILE IN CONTACT WITH THE BASE UNIT OF A CORDLESS PHONE.  PEOPLE HAVE ALSO BEEN INJURED NEAR RADIOS AND TELEVISIONS WHICH CONNECT TO SOME TYPE OF ANTENNA SYSTEM.  WINDOWS AND DOORS CAN PROVIDE A PATH FOR A DIRECT STRIKE TO ENTER A HOME...SO IT IS ADVISED TO STAY AWAY FROM THESE LOCATIONS DURING THUNDERSTORMS...AND TO MAKE SURE THAT WINDOWS AND DOORS ARE CLOSED.  BASEMENTS ARE GENERALLY

A SAFE PLACE

DURING THUNDERSTORMS...BUT AVOID DIRECT CONTACT WITH CONCRETE WALLS BECAUSE THEY OFTEN CONTAIN METAL REINFORCING BARS.  IT IS ALSO BEST TO AVOID WASHERS AND DRYERS BECAUSE THEY CONNECT WITH PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS AND ALSO CONTAIN AN ELECTRICAL PATH TO THE OUTSIDE THROUGH THE DRYER VENT.  BATHTUBS AND SHOWER STALLS SHOULD ALSO BE AVOIDED WHEN LIGHTNING IS NEARBY.  FIVE WEEKS AGO...A TEENAGE GIRL WAS INJURED WHILE TAKING A SHOWER WHEN LIGHTNING STRUCK CLOSE TO HER HOME NEAR TOPEKA KANSAS.

 LIGHTNING ALSO CAUSES SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO PERSONAL PROPERTY EACH YEAR THROUGH EITHER A DIRECT STRIKE...OR BY ELECTRICAL SURGES THAT CAN DAMAGE ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT.  UNPLUG ANY APPLIANCES OR ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT WELL BEFORE A THUNDERSTORM THREATENS.  DONT FORGET TO DISCONNECT TELEVISIONS OR RADIOS FROM OUTDOOR ANTENNAS.  IF YOU PLAN TO BE AWAY FROM YOUR HOME WHEN THUNDERSTORMS ARE POSSIBLE...UNPLUG UNNEEDED EQUIPMENT BEFORE YOU LEAVE.

HERE IS A SUMMARY OF LIGHTNING SAFETY TIPS FOR INSIDE THE HOME...

AVOID CONTACT WITH CORDED PHONES...ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AND PLUMBING. 

AVOID CONTACT WITH WATER SUCH AS TAKING A SHOWER OR DOING LAUNDRY.

STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS...DOORS AND PORCHES. 

DO NOT LIE ON CONCRETE FLOORS OR LEAN AGAINST CONCRETE WALLS. 

Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe

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