BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana summers are known for their afternoon storms. A hot and sunny morning is often followed by an afternoon that brings darkened skies, thunder, and lightning.
Considering the frequency of these thunder storms, it’s understandable when some worry about the likelihood of being struck by lightning.
What are the odds of being struck?
According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 million lightning strikes hit the ground in the United States annually.
But most people don’t have anything to worry about because the CDC adds that the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than one in a million.
Besides this, the CDC assures us that almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive.
According to the National Weather Service, as of August 22, the total number of lives lost as a direct result of lightning strikes in the U.S. during 2022 amounted to 14, and none of the tragic incidents occurred in Louisiana.
How to reduce the risk of being struck
Just to be on the safe side, what can a person do to reduce the likelihood of being struck by lightning?
The CDC mentions that people who work outdoors are at higher risk, and there are steps these individuals can take to protect themselves.
According to the CDC, these include:
Checking the weather forecast– Check the forecast every day to be prepared for bad weather so you can avoid getting caught outdoors in it. Click here to download BRProud’s weather app to stay in the know about weather conditions.
Being aware of current weather conditions– Watch for signs of potential lightning strikes such as high winds, dark clouds, distant thunder, or lightning. When these occur, don’t start any activity that you can’t quickly stop.
Following your company’s safety program– Know your company’s lightning safety warning program, if it has one. These programs should include access to a safe location and danger warnings that can be issued in time for everyone to get to the safe location.
Assessing the threat– Minimize your risk by assessing the lightning threat early and taking appropriate actions. For example, if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Stop what you are doing and seek safety in a building or hard-top vehicle with the windows rolled up. When lightning strikes a hard-top metal vehicle, it goes through the metal frame, through the tires, and into the ground.
Avoiding tall structures– During bad weather, don’t climb up tall structures such as rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles, cell phone towers, ladders, trees, and large equipment like bulldozers, cranes, and tractors.
Avoiding conductive materials – If a storm is brewing, this is not the time to touch materials or surfaces that conduct electricity such as metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes, or plumbing.
Staying away from explosives– When bad weather strikes and you find yourself in an area with explosives, leave immediately.
Surviving a lightning strike
As previously mentioned, the majority of people who’ve been struck by lightning survive the incident. But experts say this doesn’t mean life-saving measures are unnecessary when someone is struck.
When someone is hit by lightning, it should be viewed as an emergency and 911 should be contacted immediately.
According to a recent CNN article on the subject, people who’ve been struck don’t carry an electrical charge, which means it’s safe to touch them.
As this is the case, if you and a victim are outdoors, you should get them indoors if possible. It’s also critical to check and see if the victim has a pulse and is breathing. If their heart has stopped and they’re not breathing, perform CPR.
So, bystanders can help victims increase their chances of surviving the incident by calling 911, performing CPR as needed, and moving the victim to a safe location indoors.
People who’ve been struck by lightning often experience life-altering symptoms that may include seizures, memory loss, burns, and ongoing disability.
To cope with these changes, some choose to join support groups or communities made up of other survivors.
One such community is Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, which was formed to serve as a resource and continuous means of support/education to survivors and their families.
Click here for more on the nonprofit.