Play it safe during thunderstorms
NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross all urge preparedness and precaution as the best defenses against lightning. Colorado’s outdoor enthusiasts should take a proactive planning approach rather than a reactive strategy to electrical storms that set up potentially shocking situations. While enjoying Colorado’s outdoors, keep posted on weather forecasts. When planning an outdoor event, create a plan for where to take refuge in the event of a thunderstorm. Know where to go and how long it will take to get there. During group activities, appoint an on-site spotter, an aware person to watch the sky during developing storms and conditions conducive to lightning.
Lightning safety tips
Know the “flash-to-bang” method for estimating distance of lightning. When you see a flash of lightning, count the seconds until you hear the bang of thunder. Divide the number by five to estimate the number of miles between you and the lightning.
Don’t underestimate the danger of lightning. And don’t wait until the last minute to act. If you do find yourself in an electrical storm, heed the following advice:
* If possible, take refuge in a safe house, large building or a hard-topped car. Do not go into a shed in an open area. Most park shelters are not safe from lightning.
* Do not make the most common deadly mistake of seeing trees as enormous umbrellas. Never go under a large tree standing alone. Likewise, avoid poles, antennas and towers.
* Avoid lakes, rivers, pools or any water.
* Stay away from metal pipes, wire clotheslines, wire fences, metal farm equipment.
* Get off and stay away from bicycles, motorcycles and golf carts. Do not hold on to gardening tools or any other metal objects.
* In a forest, find a low area with small trees. If the area is wide open, go to a valley or ravine, but beware of flash flooding. Do not stand on top of a hill.
* If caught in a level area such as a prairie or field during an electrical storm, and you feel your hair stand on end, drop to your knees, bend forward and put your hands on your knees. Or crouch The idea is to make yourself less vulnerable by being as low to the ground as possible and taking up as little ground space as possible. Lying down is dangerous, since the wet earth can conduct lightning. Don’t touch the ground with your hands.
* Except in the case of emergency, do not use telephones during electrical storms.
Read Part One and Part Two of this series.
••• “Cultivate your corner of the world. You grow your garden; your garden grows you.” •••
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