ATLANTA — Severe Weather Awareness Week has been observed in Georgia for 30 years. During that time, at least 49 people were killed and more than two dozen were injured by lightning in Georgia, said Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English.
“Unfortunately, two people died as a result of lightning strikes in the state last year and at least six others were injured,” English said.
Lightning is a deadly by-product of thunderstorms which are very common in Georgia, particularly in the spring and summer. Lightning kills an average of 100 people a year throughout the U.S. Statistics show that on the average, lightning kills more people in the U.S. every year than tornadoes, floods or hurricanes. It occurs mostly during the warmer months of June through September.
“Learn the basic safety rules and precautions about thunderstorms and the embedded killer called lightning,” English said. “Share this knowledge with your family and friends. Don’t be caught off-guard by these storms. When outdoors, be aware of the most current local weather forecasts. Always stay alert for signs of approaching thunderstorms. Lightning is nature's warning signal that a thunderstorm is in its most violent state and that you should seek shelter immediately.”
Before lightning strikes
• Keep an eye on the sky. 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.
When a storm approaches
• Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
• Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
• Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any purpose.