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Lightning safety awareness week: Here's how you can stay prepared

Lightning is one of the most common hazards during the summertime. Make sure you have a plan in case storms pop up where you live.

YORK, Pa. — One of the hallmarks of the summer season is seeing thunderstorms pop up in the afternoons and evenings. A hazard that comes along with these summer thunderstorms is lightning, something that the National Weather Service is bringing awareness to this week.

Meteorologist Jonathan Guseman from the National Weather Service in State College urges everyone to know where a safe place is before bad weather strikes.

“You can get somewhere inside, a sturdy structure, away from windows and exterior doors," Guseman tells Fox43. "Somewhere where you’ve got a solid foundation confined around you.”

If you don’t have a solid structure to stay safe in, Guseman says, get in your car. Make sure all of the doors and windows are closed, and the vehicle will protect you from any lightning strikes.

Quinn Mulhern is a meteorology Pathways Intern at NWS State College. He says you should also be careful when it comes to running water in your home during a storm, as your pipes can conduct electricity.

“Avoid taking showers during thunderstorms," Mulhern says. "Even washing your hands can be a little bit risky at times, too, so it’s best altogether to just avoid plumbing when a storm’s overhead.”

Severe storms that receive warnings are storms that have strong winds, large hail, or a tornado. If a storm has frequent lightning, it will not get a warning.

According to Mulhern, there have been 30 lightning related deaths across Pennsylvania between 1950 and 2018. 

“Most of them occurring actually in the southeastern portion of the state given that that's where the highest lightning concentration is," Mulhern says.

One of the dangers of lightning is that it can travel up to 10 miles away from a storm, so it doesn't need to be raining in your location for you to be affected.

Bolts of lightning are also very hot, measuring up to 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun. 

The threat of lightning will remain for most of the summer. Make sure to stay Weather Smart by downloading the Fox43 app so you can stay alert to any bad weather where you live.


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