Spring/Summer Weather Series: The Danger of Thunderstorms/Lightning Safety
Thunderstorms are just part of the activity that come at a very high cost in terms of safety and dollars in loss. The actual lightning has great value at the nutrients for vegetation that cannot be provided for any other way, yet with the onslaught of some torrential weather, I am sharing some suggestions for more safety for the a dangerous type weather, while technically happen primarily spring, summer and fall, can happen anytime–the thunderstorm. With every thunderstorm, the imminent lightning that does along with the thunder, can have devastating effect. Also, watch for flooding waters, of which I have featured in the past: Tips For Playing it Safe During Flooding Waters. Also with the proper thunderstorm, a wall cloud and/or comma signature thunderstorm can spawn tornadoes in a flash, of which I have featured in the past: The 31st Anniversary of the Strongest August Tornado on Record – Plainfield, Illinois. I will be featuring a clear and concise posts as the series of “Spring & Summer Weather Series” progresses throughout the spring and summer months.
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GET READY FOR THE THUNDERSTORM NOW!
The most dangerous aspect of any thunderstorm is the lightning involved with it. Lightning is a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere or between the atmosphere and the ground, usually associated with a thunderstorm, but in dry areas can happen given the right circumstances, especially in the desert. The average lightning bolt measures about 300 million Volts and about 30,000 Amps, while in comparison, a standard household current is 120 Volts and 15 Amps. The average temperature of lightning is over five times hotter than the Sun’s surface, measuring in at near or above 50,000°F, while in comparison, the surface of the Sun is just under 10,000°F. In the initial stages of development, air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges in the cloud and between the cloud and the ground. These charges continue to build up and, then when the differences in charges becomes too great, this insulating capacity of the air breaks down letting the charge flow, and there is a rapid discharge of electricity through the air that we know as lightning. There’s so much to learn about lightning.
PREPARATION BEFORE A THUNDERSTORM:
- Take photos to have handy for your information and insurance purposes on both your home and your vehicles on an ongoing basis. They may be necessary to assist your later damages from the storm.
- Have an emergency stash of food and water in case the power is out for a long period of time.
- Have power surge protection and GFCI plugs installed so that lightning cannot use your wiring for backend surging into your homes electric wires, and/or phones.
- Stay informed by monitoring the storm by radio, and if power is still an option, plug in the TV, and/or internet. A battery operated NOAA.com weather radio on hand with fresh batteries is most helpful. Check the batteries two times per year before disaster strikes.
- Pay attention to the latest storm warnings.
- Try to make sure you always bring proper ID with you at all times, if you are a victim, you will be easier identified. Have battery operated security for backup.
- Practice safety drills. Be ready and have a plan of action should disaster strike.
Protecting Your Home:
Make sure that way before the storm approaches, that you call your insurance broker and be sure that your policy is up to date, and that the latest assurance is extended to you and your family. There is clearly no way to avoid a lightning strike, but having proper insurance makes sure that if it does that you and your family won’t have to go through this without the proper insurance.
Protection from Installing Lightning Rods:
Lightning rods, and the accompanying protection systems are designed to protect a house or building from a direct lightning strike and, in particular, a lightning-initiated fire. Note that lightning protection systems do not prevent lightning from striking the structure, but rather intercept a lightning strike, provide a conductive path for the harmful electrical discharge to follow (the appropriate UL-listed copper or aluminum cable), and disperse the energy safely into the ground (grounding network). It’s very important that these components be properly connected (bonded) to minimize the chances for any sparks or side flashes. While lightning rods help protect a structure from a direct lightning strike, a complete lightning protection system is needed to help prevent harmful electrical surges and possible fires caused by lightning entering a structure via wires and pipes. A complete system also includes electrical surge protection devices for incoming power, data, and communication lines; and surge protection devices for vulnerable appliances. Lightning protection may also be needed for gas piping. Any lightning protection system should follow the national safety standards and requirements of the Lightning Protection Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and Underwriters Laboratories.
DURING THE STORM (THE LIGHTNING):
Lightning: What You Need to Know:
NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!! If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Remember, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors“! There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach, and delayed actions can lead to the many lightning deaths and injuries caused in the United States.
The term heat lightning is commonly used to describe lightning from a distant thunderstorm that is just too far away to see the actual cloud-to-ground flash or hearing of accompanying thunder. While many people incorrectly think that heat lightning is a specific type of lightning, it is simply the light that is produced by a distant thunderstorm, and is still really lightning. Often obstructions such as mountains, hills, trees or just the curvature of the earth can prevent the observer from seeing an actual lightning flash and the result is instead of seeing the actual lightning, the faint flash can be seen by the observer as the light is reflected off higher-level clouds. As far as no result of thunder, the sound of thunder can only be heard for about 10 miles from a flash as the power and sound dissipate.
The 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule:
Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors 30 minutes after hearing the last roar of thunder.
The Warning Signs of an Approaching Storm:
When thunderstorms threaten, don’t start any tasks you can’t quickly stop. Pay attention to the daily forecasts so you know what to expect during the day, and adjust the schedule accordingly. Pay attention to early signs of thunderstorms:
- High winds
- Dark clouds
- Distant thunder or lightning
If these conditions exist, do not start a task you cannot quickly stop.
How Dangerous Lightning Is:
Lightning is a major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S. Thunderstorms are the most popular style of inclement weather in the world. They happen everywhere on Earth, and at any temperature or climate. Lightning is the most popular condition other than the rain itself formed from a thunderstorm. Any lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest at the time of the strike, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Data, for the period over the last 30 years from 1989-2018, the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year. That’s only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability. More recently in the period of the last 10 years from 2009-2018, the U.S. has lowered its average to 27 lightning fatalities. Thunderstorms cause a lot of property damage and downed power lines–up at number four in line of all types disasters, with drought coming in at number one. With proper insurance, most of these storms should have proper coverage, of which would damage your pocketbook.
Five Ways Lightning Strikes People (and anything):
- Direct Strike: A dead center strike
- Side Flash: A jumped bolt that is striking a taller object and then jumping directly to you
- Ground Current: Standing in the vicinity of the strike and standing on electrified ground
- Conduction: Touching an object that is struck and current grounding out through your body
- Streamers: When lightning strikes where the bolt divides into more than one bolt, and one hitting you
Tips on Indoors and Outdoors Lightning Safety:
- When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter.
- A substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
- Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety:
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Optimally, move indoors or into a vehicle cabin. There is little you can do substantially reducing your risk if you are caught outside during a thunderstorm. The only completely safe action is to move inside to a safe building or into a vehicle.
All These Activities Are NOT Safe To Continue:
- Outdoor Sports
- At the beach or lake
- Camping, climbing and other wilderness activities
- Outdoor employment
When Should Activities Be Halted?
In general, a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles. It’s important to account for the time it will take for everyone to get to safety. Here are some criteria that could be used to stop activities:
- If you see lightning. The ability to see lightning varies depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and obstructions such as trees, mountains, etc. In clear air, and especially at night, lightning can be seen from storms more than 10 miles away provided that obstructions don’t limit the view of the thunderstorm.
- If You Hear Thunder. Thunder can usually be heard for a distance of about 10 miles provided that there is no background noise. Traffic, wind, and precipitation may limit the ability to hear thunder to less than 10 miles. If you hear thunder, though, it’s a safe bet that the storm is within ten miles.
If the skies look threatening. Thunderstorms can develop directly overhead and some storms may develop lightning just as they move into an area.
Where Should People Go for Safe Shelter?
There is no place outside that is safe when a thunderstorm is in the area. Stop the activity immediately and get to a safe place immediately. Substantial buildings with wiring and plumbing provide the greatest amount of protection. Office buildings, schools, and homes are examples of buildings that would offer good protection. Once inside, stay away from windows and doors and anything that conducts electricity such as corded phones, wiring, plumbing, and anything connected to these. Note that small outdoor buildings including dugouts, rain shelters, sheds, etc., are NOT SAFE. In the absence of a substantial building, a hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows closed provides good protection.
When a Safe Location is NOT Nearby:
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
- Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects, and never shelter near these
- places. If you are stuck in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
- Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
- Never lie flat on the ground
- Never shelter under an isolated tree
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
- Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity and could be struck, to make matter worse, also causing debris to fall (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
Risk of Immediate Danger/Safety Protocol:
If your hair is standing on end, goosebumps, or your hair is sticking up on end–You are in immediate danger of being struck. These may be the only warning signs that you have before being struck. The charge of electricity that causes a lightning discharge is what causes these symptoms. They do not always happen! NEVER lay onto the floor for safety. But if you are lucky, and you feel any of the symptoms of hair floating, move to an eare immediately under cover. The National Weather Service (NWS) stopped recommending the crouch in 2008, stopping, dropping and crouching can only be a last resort. You are better off trying to run under a structure or into a vehicle for best protection, as crouching only lets the majority of the lightning charge circumvent, going through your arms into your legs, only minimizing the current flow by bypassing going through your chest, heart, aortic area and other vital organs located throughout your upper chest and abdomen. This method is not sufficient to keep a strike safe. It is also important to note that crouch should only be used if absolutely necessary, and all safer protocols should be followed before you find yourself in the predicament.
It is NEVER safe to proceed your trip walking in the outdoors while a thunderstorm is approaching or happening. Always take immediate cover promptly. If you see threatening skies in the distance and you are near a safe building, take cover and wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before resuming your walk. Carrying a portable NOAA weather radio or listen to commercial radio is of benefit.
Protect yourself while on a bicycle, motorcycle or dirt bike. If you see threatening skies in the distance and you are near a safe building, pull over and wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before resuming your ride. Carrying a portable NOAA weather radio or listen to commercial radio is of benefit.
More Information for Walking, Hiking, Biking:
Lightning Risk Management for Backcountry Campers and Hikers is located at: backcountry_lightning.pdf
On the Water:
As far as fish, even though fish swim below the surface, most are unaffected. Scientists don’t know exactly just how deep a lightning discharge reaches in or through water, it’s very dangerous to be swimming or boating during and throughout a thunderstorm. A vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with no cabin. It is crucial to listen to weather information when you are boating. If thunderstorms are forecast, do not go out. If you are out and cannot get back to land and safety, drop anchor and get as low as possible. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels are relatively safe. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces. Stay off the radio unless it is an emergency! There is more Information for boating lightning protection systems: How to Protect Your Boat From Lightning
On the Beach:
Your family plans to go to the beach today could change in a heartbeat, because when you get to the beach, you examine that nearby structures are open-sided picnic shelters, with a parking lot that is a 5 minute walk from the beach. Always examine for an escape route and keep your eye to the skies. If you see skies are darkening and/or hear distant thunder, you need to abort and go back to your car! Do NOT seek shelter under beach picnic shelters. Wait 30 minutes until after the last rumble of thunder before going back onto the beach.
If the boat you are in does not have a cabin you can get into during lightning activity, then you are safer diving deep into the water for the duration of the storm or as long as possible.
Cave entrances are dangerous during thunderstorms. Small overhangs can allow arcs to cross the gap. Even caves that go well into the ground can be struck, either via the entrance or through the ground. Going well into a cave increases your safety somewhat. Once as deep into the cave as possible, avoid touching metal, standing in water and touching both the cave ceiling and floor.
Lightning Safety on the Job:
Some workers are at a greater risk than others. People who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, with explosives or with conductive materials such as metal have a greater exposure to lightning risks.
Workers in These Outdoor Occupations are at Highest Risk:
- Explosive handling or storage
- Heavy equipment operation
- Plumbing and pipe fitting
- Construction and building maintenance
- Farming and field labor
- Telecommunications field repair
- Power utility field repair
Have a company lightning safety program and protocol. Know your company’s lightning safety warning program. Businesses that have high risk functions, such as explosive storage or field repairs, should have a formal lightning warning policy that meets two basic requirements:
- Lightning danger warnings can be issued in time for everyone to get to a safe location
- Access to a safe place
- Assess your lightning risk and take appropriate actions. During thunderstorms no place outside is safe. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike. Stop what you are doing and seek safety in a substantial building or a hard-topped metal vehicle.
Objects/Equipment to Avoid:
- Stay off and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles and ladders.
- Stay off and away from large equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders and tractors.
- Do not touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing.
- Leave areas with explosives or munitions.
If a co-worker is struck by lightning. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available. For more information, see the OSHA Factsheet: Lightning Safety When Working Outdoors.pdf
Before an activity or event, organizers should listen to the latest forecast to access the likelihood of thunderstorms. When outdoor sports or activities are in session, the following parameters must be thoroughly not taken for granite:
When should activities be stopped? Outdoor sporting events including baseball stop usually because of the dangers of lightning, not because it is simply wet outside.
Where should people go for safety? Have a plan and a designated safety area where people are safe in times of lightning danger during any event.
When should activities be resumed? Not only common sense should be exercised, but all regular protocol for lightning safety should be adhered to to resuming activities after the danger has expired.
Who should monitor the weather and make the decision to stop activities? Lightning safety plans should specify that the event organizer have a designated and qualified individual designated who has had experience in the field of meteorology and weather safety. There are courses that are available for the individual to stay on top of the latest safety measures available. Remember, lives may depend on the knowledge and skills attained by this individual. Also remember, the individual must be present.that someone be designated to monitor the weather for lightning. The lightning monitor should not be the coach, umpire, or referee, because these people will be busy and can’t adequately monitor conditions. The lightning monitor must know the plan’s guidelines and be empowered to assure that the guidelines are followed.
Lightning and Cars:
Remember, there is NO safe area in any thunderstorms, but a vehicle can offer some protection from the storm. The rubber tires on your car do not protect you, because vehicles, like trees, houses, and people, anything outside is at risk of being struck by lightning when thunderstorms are in the area. The outer metal shell of hard-topped metal vehicles does provide protection to those inside a vehicle with the windows closed because the lightning is attracted to the heavy metal of the engine area with a usual discharge directly through the bottom hub of the metal area under the vehicle’s hood area. During a typical cloud-to-ground strike, actually cloud-to-vehicle, the lightning strike will either strike the antenna of the vehicle or along the roofline. The lightning will then pass through the vehicle’s outer metal shell, then through the tires to the ground. NEVER touch any metal surfaces! Particular attention to whether you are touching metal surfaces to avoid this is crucial to whether injury will result. The resulting damage from a lightning strike can vary, with damage to:
- The antenna
- The electrical system
- The rear windshield
- The tires
The heat from a lightning strike is sufficient cause major damage to any vehicle and cause the vehicle’s operation to be unsafe and/or impossible. The strike can render the vehicle to be totalled partially melt the antenna of a vehicle and can cause what seems like a small explosion of sparks as tiny fragments of metal melt and burn. A portion of the discharge may find its way into the vehicle’s electrical system and may damage or destroy electronic components, potentially leaving the car inoperable. The lightning may also find its way into the small defrosting wires that are embedded in rear windows causing the windows to shatter. Finally, it’s very common for the lightning to destroy one or more tires as it passes through the steel belts to the ground. It’s also possible for the lightning to ignite a fire which could destroy the vehicle.
Lightning and Planes:
Commercial transport passenger planes are hit by lightning an average of one or two times a year. They are designed and built with safety in mind to have conducting paths through the plane to take the lightning strike and conduct the currents. Aircraft often initiate the strike because with their presence, it is subject to the enhanced, ambient electric fields typical for thunderstorms and actually facilitates an electrical breakdown through air. Whenever it is suspected that a plane has been hit by lightning, there is a automatic and mandatory inspection for damage, which causes flight delays and becomes quite expensive. For these reasons, as well as turbulence, flight operators avoid thunderstorms as much as it is possible. However, many planes are not required to be designed for protection from lightning, including small private and experimental aircraft. There have not been any lightning-caused commercial transport airplane crash in many decades, but it’s not true for the other groups of aircraft.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE STRUCK:
Lightning can lead to burns, but the fact is that serious burns seldom occur. Lightning primarily causes injuries to the nervous system, often with brain injury and/or nerve injury. People who don’t suffer cardiac arrest at the time of the incident may experience lesser symptoms, which often clear over a few days:
- Muscle soreness
- Headache, nausea, stomach upset and other post-concussion types of symptoms
- Mild confusion, memory slowness or mental clouding
- Dizziness, balance problems
- Longer Term Problems
Most survivors experience only some of the symptoms below:
- Problems coding new information and accessing old information
- Problems multitasking
- Slower reaction time
- Irritability and personality change
- Inattentiveness or forgetfulness
- Headaches which do not resolve with usual OTC meds
- Chronic pain from nerve injury
- Ringing in the ears and dizziness or balance problems
- Difficulty sleeping, sometimes sleeping excessively at first and later only two or three hours at a time
- Delayed Symptoms
- Personality changes/self-isolation
- Irritability and embarrassment because they can’t remember people, job responsibilities and key information
- Difficulty carrying on a conversation
- Chronic pain and headaches
Friends, family and co-workers who see the same external person may not understand why the survivor is so different. Friends may stop coming by or asking them to participate in activities or survivors may self-isolate out of embarrassment or irritability. As with other disabilities, families who are not committed to each other are more likely to break up.
Medical Tests Are Available (2 Type):
Anatomic tests take an x-ray, CT scan and MRIs or blood count measurement. These tests will often come back “normal” for lightning survivors because, similar to concussions, the injury is in how the brain works, not in what it looks like on a picture kind of test.
Functional tests show how something is working so that it may be more useful to have neuropsychological testing for brain injuries. Neuropsychological testing is expensive but may be useful for those who need to document learning or processing disabilities for school or work.
Where Can Survivors Get Help?
The Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, International (LSESSI), is a support group formed in 1989 by a lightning survivor. LSESSI has helped hundreds of survivors, families, physicians and other professionals by:
What are the Four Steps to Recovery?
The four most important factors in overcoming disability from lightning injury, or from any illness or major injury for that matter, are:
- Having a supportive family/friends network.
- Becoming your own advocate and learning as much as you can about this disability or having a family member do this for the survivor.
- Finding a physician willing to listen, read, learn and work with the survivor and their family. There are no ‘specific’ treatments for lightning injuries. Care of the brain injury and chronic pain problems is similar to that for concussion and nerve injury from other causes.
- Having a sense of humor because not all of this will go away. Laughter is a great stress reliever for everyone.
MEDICAL INFORMATION ON BEING STRUCK:
Odds of Becoming a Lightning Victim (Averages for 2009-2018):
The odds of becoming a lightning victim on information based on averages for the period of 2009 to 2018 are based on the estimated U.S. population as of the year 2019 being 330,000,000, and the average number of deaths reported being 27. The estimated number of injuries were 243, with a total of persons affected being 270. That makes the odds of being struck in any given year (estimated total deaths + estimated injuries) for the period to be 1/1,222,000. The statistical value of the total odds of being struck in your lifetime with an estimated life of 80 years to be 1/15,300. The final statistic is the odds that you will be affected by someone struck (10 people for every 1 struck) to be 1/1,530.
More People Live Through a Lightning Strike:
Lightning kills about 20 people each year in the United States and hundreds more than that are injured. There were only 10 personal deaths in the U.S. in 2021 by lightning deaths, and there are still protocols and things that can be done in order to minimize the threat of injury and death. Here’s more information on the victims and the survivors. Always practice safer activity as indicated in this article throughout making it through a thunderstorm are the best practice. More information on the analysis of lightning fatalities for the years of 2006-2019 can be found at National Weather Service (NWS): Analysis06-19.pdf, and even more Weather Related Fatality and Injury Statistics.
The Medical Aspects of Being Struck:
It is imperative that you seek proper medical car is you or someone you know is struck by lightning. Support groups and networking also help assist in providing even more resources.
The organization Survivors: Lightning Strike & Electrical Shock Survivors Int. assist in providing the proper resources and information on if you are or know someone who has been struck by lightning. Some survivors suffer lifelong neurological damage. A donation and support would be most welcomed. If you are a survivor, the following will assist the caretaker to bring proper and amicable care:
- Providing print and related materials
- Supporting family and friends of survivors
- Connecting survivors with others in their area
- Organizing an annual meeting where survivors and their families can come together for support and information.
Address: lightning-strike.org P.O. Box 1156, Jacksonville, NC 28541-1156.
What should be done if someone is struck by lightning?
Immediately call 9-1-1 for medical help. Have a plan for if the danger strikes that a person has been struck. 9-1-1 can take time to respond to an emergency call, so the skills of first aid care on site can make the difference, sometimes of being of life or death. Most victims can survive a lightning strike–however, they will need immediate medical attention. Remember that the victims don’t carry an electrical charge, so immediate treatment is not only possible but necessary to assist in first aid protocol. In many cases, the victims’ heart and/or breathing may have stopped, so CPR or an AED may be needed in order to revive them. Continue first aid to monitor the victim until medical help arrives. If it is possible, move the victim and yourself to a safer place inside away from the threat of another lightning strike.
AFTER THE STORM:
- Have patience, as it takes some time in order to resolve any issue during a crisis.
- Report emergencies promptly, have patience, but avoid using the phone, except for emergencies, due to prudence and use during an emergency scenario.
- If you are not in the area during the storm have ID ready as checkpoints only allow officials, media, cleared parties and people with proper credentials to pass for safety and security.
- Access any and all damages carefully and pay attention to safety. Have a first aid kit handy.
- Call insurance and only follow the following tips after proper accessing has been done, and don’t forget to take photos first before you fix damages. keep all receipts for supplies, fixing–for insurance or to claim a loss.
- Access the possibility and turn on utilities ONLY if possible.
- Check the sump pumps and drains, and make sure they are operating properly to assure that they are operating correctly.
- It may take several weeks to dispose of refuse, make sure if any waste is hazardous to dispose of properly.
- Access and have the repairs done, and fix the decor.
Safety is the upmost important factor in I disaster. Once disaster strikes, the outcome of recovery both financially and just in general can be very disastrous in itself. I am reaching out to give Resources For Recovery information, should a disaster of any type strike, so that the information is available to you, for your reference. So here is my Disaster – Home, Family & Financial Toolkit.
RESOURCES & RECOVERY AFTER DISASTER: THE HOME & FAMILY + FINANCIAL TOOLKIT:
There are many disaster and emergency preparedness and assistance resources available for you to help you through the hard times rebuilding:
- American Red Cross: redcross.org
- American Red Cross – Contact and Locate Loved Ones: redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief/contact-and-locate-loved-ones
- American Red Cross – Find an Open Shelter: redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery/find-an-open-shelter
- American Red Cross – Safe and Well: 1-800-RedCross (1-800-733-2767)
- Apps – American Red Cross: redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps. Separate apps cover the subjects of: blood, earthquake, emergency, first aid, flooding, hero care, hurricanes, pet first aid, tornadoes, and wildfires.
- Pet owner disaster preparation and assistance (ASPCA): aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/aspca-mobile-app. This can assist with personalized missing pet recovery kits, creating digital lost pet flyers that can be shared instantly on the user’s social networks, advice on what to do with your pet before, during and after a storm or natural disaster, and the ability store a pet’s vital medical records and dietary needs, which can shave off precious time in the event of an emergency. This information can be easily stored and shared for your convenience as well.
- DisasterAssistance.gov: disasterassistance.gov provides information on how you might be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during and after a disaster. If the President makes help available to individuals in your community after a disaster, you can visit this site to apply online.
- Disaster Distress Helpline: disasterdistress.samhsa.gov SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters and is dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.
- Call: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): fema.gov FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
- Military OneSource: militaryonesource.mil Offers various articles and resources for emergency preparedness and natural disasters.
- Money Management in Times of Disaster: personal-finance.extension.org/money-management-in-times-of-disaster with information about Money Management during times of disaster:
- Money management in times of disaster: Preparation
- Returning to your damaged home
- Managing finances and making decisions after a disaster
- Ready.gov: ready.gov Ready is a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation. Ready and its Spanish language version Listo ask individuals to do three key things: (1) build an emergency supply kit, (2) make a family emergency plan and (3) be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses.
- Sesame Street (Emergency Toolkits): sesamestreet.org/toolkits/emergencies has simple and easy resources to help you help children and others recover from an emergency.
- The National Terror Alert Response Center: Nationalterroralert.com is a private homeland security blog and not affiliated with any government agency. We archive and comment on homeland security related news items from a variety of news sources and tips, as well as provide immediate updates on breaking stories, bulletins and any change in status to Homeland Security advisory. Nationalterroralert.com has become America’s leading source for homeland security news and information. A collaborative resource of news and analysis related to homeland security events, threats and trends. The National Terror Alert Response Network promotes homeland security emergency preparedness through awareness, education, community involvement and partnerships between individuals, groups and organizations. We strive to chronicle homeland security related news, trends and events in an effort to create national awareness and focus. It is our belief that through education and awareness some instances of terrorism may be prevented and through preparedness lives can be saved.
- TriCare: tricare.mil/disasterinfo In the event of a natural disaster, TriCare US Family Health Plan will post disaster-related information on their homepage. It’s important to know that your TriCare benefits will be maintained during any time of crisis. In the event of evacuation, please take the necessary precautions. In the case of an emergency, dial 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room. Click on an icon below (on the TriCare website) to read alerts and emergency information in your area.
- TriCare emergency prescription refills: At times during emergencies, TriCare may authorize early refills for prescriptions. You will be notified via this site if early refills re authorized. TriCare officials remind beneficiaries that early refills are only authorized for beneficiaries who specifically indicate they are impacted by the emergency event.
When disaster strikes, this list helps assist you in getting the help and assistance that you need in order to put your life back together.
Lightning Myths and Facts:
- Myth: If you’re caught outside during a thunderstorm, you should crouch in order to reduce risk of being struck by lightning.
Fact: Crouching doesn’t make you any safer outside during a thunderstorm. Run to a substantial building or a hard topped vehicle. If you are too far to run to one of these options, you do not have a safe alternative. You are NEVER safe anywhere in the outdoors during a thunderstorm.
- Myth: Lightning never strikes in the same place a second time.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same places repeatedly, especially if it is a tall, pointed, and/or isolated object, especially a skyscraper, tree or boat.
- Myth: If it isn’t raining or aren’t any cloud-cover overhead, then you are safe from a lightning strike.
Fact: Lightning can often and does strikes several miles from the center of a thunderstorm, which is far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. Termed “bolts from the blue” can strike as far as 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm with no clouds in sight.
- Myth: The rubber car tires protect you from a lightning strike by being a good insulator.
Fact: Even though most cars are safer from lightning, it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and any car or vehicle with a non-metallic fiberglass shell can offer absolutely no protection from a lightning blot. When lightning strikes any vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground like a wire. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.
- Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!
- Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!
- Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.
Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.
- Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.
Fact: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.
- Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones,Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning.
Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter instead of wasting time removing metal that won’t attract lightning. Metal does conduct lightning, so stay away from all metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.
- Myth: A designer can recommend a type of clothing in which is safer to wear during a thunderstorm.
Fact: There are no differences in the type of clothing worn, short of wearing a suit of armor, that will insulate from a lightning strike.
- Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.
Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.
- Myth: Lightning flashes are 2 to 2-1/2 miles apart.
Fact: New data shows half the flashes are about 3-5 miles apart, whereas the old data stated that successive flashes were on the order of 2 to 2-1/2 miles apart. The National Severe Storms Laboratory report concludes: “It appears the safety rules need to be modified to increase the distance from a previous flash which can be considered to be relatively safe, to at least 6 to 8 miles. In the past, 2-3 miles was as used in lightning safety education.” Source: Separation Between Successive Lightning Flashes in Different Storms Systems: 1998, Lopez & Holle, from Proceedings 1998 Intl Lightning Detection Conference, Tucson AZ, November 1998.
- Myth: High percentage of lightning flashes are fork shaped.
Fact: While any cloud-to-ground lightning flashes have forked or multiple attachment points to earth, tests carried out in the U.S. and Japan verify that a finding in at least 50% of negative charged flashes and then more than 70% of positive charged flashes. Many lightning detectors can’t acquire accurate information about these multiple ground lightning attachments, therefore having inaccurate results. Source: Termination of Multiple Stroke Flashes Observed by Electromagnetic Field: 1998, Ishii, et al. Proceedings 1998 Int’l Lightning Protection Conference, Birmingham U.K., Sept. of 1998.
- Myth: Lightning can spread out a 60 foot diameter after striking.
Fact: Radial horizontal arcing has been measured at least 66 feet from the point where lightning hits ground. Depending on soils characteristics, safe conditions for people and equipment near lightning termination points, or ground rods, may need re-evaluation. Source: 1993 Triggered Lightning Test Program: Environments Within 20 meters of the Lightning Channel and Small Are Temporary Protection Concepts: 1993, SAND94-0311, Sandia Natl Lab, Albuquerque NM
A thunderstorm and lightning are nasty facts of life, but truly is a part of life that all have to deal with. They are not going away, and we need to be prepared, and be safe.
THUNDERSTORM RECOVERY RESOURCES