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This week the Nation is celebrating its seventh annual National Lightning Awareness Week. The idea of this week is to educate the public on lightning and lightning safety.
Lightning is no joke, my friends. I was an ocean lifeguard for six years. During summer storms, lightning has come close to striking me one too many times. Since I am an avid weather lover, I used to think it was cool to see storms up close - that is moving towards shore from the ocean. That quickly changed one day when I was seriously afraid for my life.
When a storm is approaching, we have to clear the patrons off the beach. We cannot get off the beach until it is cleared. So, unwillingly there have been numerous times when I was running around the beach during thunderstorms. I remember one time specifically. The hair on my arms started to rise and then lighning struck the metal garbage can 15 feet away from me. I was in shock. When lightning hits sand it actually melts the sand and turns it to glass. Imagine what would happen if lightning hit you. Since that day, I make sure to head indoors when I hear thunder - because if you hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning.
Lightning can be known as the underrated killer. In the United States there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year! On average lightning kills 62 people a year. So far this year, 8 people have already died from lightning.
You may ask - how can I avoid being hit by lightning? Well, most thunderstorms occur on hot, sticky summer days. It's fine to have outdoor activities planned, but if thunderstorms are in the forecast have a safety plan. If you see dark towering cumulus clouds develop and hear thunder, seek shelter immediately. Shelter can include a building or fully enclosed vehicle. Unsafe shelter includes tall trees, tents, sheds, etc. You can safely go back outside 30 minutes after the last roar of thunder.
Your best bet is to plan ahead by checking your local forecast or purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio.
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