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Think summer storms are harmless?

Think again

You might joke that you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than winning the lottery, and you would be right.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes in the United States each year, killing 28 people and injuring 252 annually (averages based on data from 2008-2017).

Your odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 1,171,000 in any given year. Before you deny that might ever happen to you, consider a person’s average lifespan (estimated at 80 years) and the odds drop to around 1 in 14,600. Lest you think these numbers are bogus and fabricated to make a point, the NWS tracks all kinds of storm data and actually publishes the odds of becoming struck by lightning.

(Oh, and just so you know, the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is 1 in 302.6 million and the Powerball, 1 in 292.2 million. And that’s according to Lottery USA.)

While there is little you can do to increase your chances of becoming a multi-millionaire by winning a huge lottery windfall, there are proactive steps you can take before and during a storm to stay safe. Cass County Electric Cooperative offers the following weather-related reminders from FEMA, the Red Cross and other safety organizations:

  • Never seek shelter under an isolated tree, tower or utility pole since lightning tends to strike tall objects.
  • Immediately vacate elevated areas, such as hills, mountain ridges and peaks.
  • Get away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, including wires and fences (and golf clubs!). Approximately 5 percent of annual lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S. happen on golf courses, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
  • Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Learn about your community’s emergency warning for severe thunderstorms.
  • Pick a safe place in your home for family members to gather during a thunderstorm. The location should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail.
  • Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are structurally sound.
  • Your mom was right: Never talk on a landline telephone during a thunderstorm. Lightning could strike whatever building you are in, and the electricity will look for the quickest route to the ground via wiring. Although many homes don’t have landlines anymore, many businesses still do.
  • Know the difference between a watch and a warning. A severe thunderstorm watch means that they are possible in and near the area. A severe thunderstorm warning means that severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. A warning is serious and means that there is imminent danger to life and property.

The best way to protect yourself against lightning or other storm-related injury or death is to monitor the weather and cancel or delay outdoor activities when thunderstorms are forecast. Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, so if you can hear thunder, you are at risk for being struck by lightning.

For more information about electrical safety, click here


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