Research indicates that lightning is the number two cause of death due to weather phenomena, accounting for over 100 deaths annually. The National Weather Service has stated that lightning can strike up to a distance of 10 miles, with storms traveling at speeds exceeding 50 MPH. However, thunder can only be heard at a distance of 8 miles, therefore if you hear thunder, YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER AND SHOULD SEEK PROTECTIVE SHELTER INDOOR AT ONCE.
The most dangerous storms give little or no warning; thunder and lightning are not heard or seen. Up to 40% of all lightning is not accompanied by thunder and 20-40% of all thunder cannot be heard do to atmospheric disturbances, thus the term “silent killer”. At times the only natural forewarning that might precede a lightning strike, is feeling your hair stand on end or your skin tingle. At this point, YOU ARE IN IMMINENT DANGER OF BEING STRUCK.
The National Weather Service recommends that thirty (30) minutes should pass after the last sound of thunder and/or lightning seen before resuming play. This is sufficient time to allow the storm to pass and move out of range.
A perilous misconception is that it is possible to see lightning coming and have time to act before it strikes. This could prove to be fatal. In reality, the lightning that we see flashing is actually the return stroke flashing upward from the ground to the cloud. When you see lightning strike, it has already hit. It is a fact that you will never see the bolt that hits you.
PRACTICES: If lightning is seen and/or thunder is heard, evacuate the playing fields immediately. The Athletic Director and the Athletic Trainer have the ultimate authority to stop practices when conditions become unsafe. All personnel (athletes, coaches, etc.) must move indoors immediately.
GAMES: The Athletic Director and/or Athletic Trainer will advise the Officials when the weather has become unsafe, using current technology (lightning detectors, computer forecasts, etc.). The Officials have the ultimate authority to stop a contest when conditions become unsafe. Act immediately and move all personnel (coaches, athletes, spectators, etc.) indoors.
SAFE SHELTER: A safe location is any substantial, frequently inhabited building. The building should have four solid walls (not a dug out), electrical and telephone wiring, as well as plumbing, all which aid in grounding a structure. The secondary choice for a safer location is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and the windows completely closed. It is important not to touch any part of the metal framework of the vehicle while inside it during ongoing thunderstorms.
When caught in a thunderstorm without availability or time to reach safe structures, you can minimize the risk of lightning related injury by following a few basic guidelines:
· Avoid being the highest object. Seek a thick grove of small trees or bushes surrounded by a dry ditch.
· Avoid contact with anything that would be attractive to lightning. Stay away from freestanding trees, poles, antennas, towers, bleachers, baseball dugouts, metal fences, standing pools of water, and golf carts.
· Crouch down with legs together, the weight on the balls of the feet, arms wrapped around knees, and head down with ears covered.
Zinder, S.M. and Shultz, S.J. Lightning Safety. National Federation of
RECOMMENDED SITES FOR SAFE SHELTER:
LOWER MIDDLE SCHOOL Building: For those teams that are using the Varsity Baseball Field, Soccer/Lacrosse Fields, Rose Poppa Fields. Note: Those using the Rose Poppa Fields (primarily sub-varsity and middle school teams) should use extra precaution and immediately leave that area with the smallest amount of thunder or lightning due to distance to school.
Montgomery Park/Mill Pond Soccer Fields: Cars and/or school buses would be most recommended if there were no structures available. If cars/buses are not an option, follow above guidelines