(ATLANTA) – Since 2007, lightning has caused 305 deaths in the United States. In Georgia, it’s one of the most common weather-related killers, and on average, it kills one to two people in the state every year. During Lightning Safety Awareness Week, occurring this year from June 26-30, Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA/HS) encourages all Georgians to understand the risks associated with lightning and to prepare for the unexpected.
“Our state ranks tenth when it comes suffering lightning fatalities, and for this and other reasons, every Georgian should be prepared with the knowledge of what to do before, during and after a storm,” said Homer Bryson, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA/HS). “Even though most lightning strikes during the summer months, it’s still critical to understand the risks it poses year round.”
Every year in the United States, it is estimated that lightning strikes about 25 million times. More than 70 percent of lightning deaths between 2006 and 2016 occurred during the months of June, July and August, making this awareness week especially timely. GEMA/HS’s Ready Georgia campaign recommends the following tips to prepare for lightning storms.
Before Lightning Strikes
- Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
- Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts.
- Download the free Ready Georgia mobile app to receive severe weather alerts.
When a Storm Approaches
- Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
- If shelter is not available, go to the lowest area nearby and make yourself the smallest target possible by squatting. Do not lie flat on the ground.
- If on open water, get to land and shelter immediately.
- A tall, isolated tree in an open area
- Hilltops and open fields
- Bodies of water: the beach, a pool, lake, etc.
- Small structures in open areas
- Do not take a bath or shower, and avoid running water.
After the Storm Passes
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
- Listen to the radio or television for information and instructions.
For more information on how to prepare for lightning storms and other severe weather, visit www.ready.ga.gov or download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app. To learn about specific risks in your area, contact your local emergency management agency.
As part of the Office of the Governor, GEMA/HS works with local, state and federal governments, in partnership with the private sector and faith-based community, to protect life and property against man-made and natural emergencies. In addition, GEMA/HS employees are on 24-hour call statewide to assist local authorities when disaster strikes. GEMA/HS’s Ready Georgia campaign helps Georgians prepare for disasters. Go to www.ready.ga.gov or download the free Ready Georgia app for information on developing a custom emergency plan and Ready kit.
(This is a press release from Ready Georgia)