Saturday, May 24, 2008

Safety - Lightning

The thunderstorm season is fast approaching and workers and business owners in the green industries should take time to be familiar with lighting safety. The following are some general tips and web sites to visit.

If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Lightning can strike as far away as 10 miles from the area where it is raining.

If you can see lightning flashes, count the seconds after a flash until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the storm is within 6 miles and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately.

The best shelters are buildings with closed windows and doors, and plumbing and electrical wiring, which provide grounding. Enclosed vehicles can also be used as shelter, but avoid convertibles. It is the metal shell of a vehicle that protects you--not the rubber tires. Roll up the windows and don't touch any metal.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. Don't be fooled by sunshine or blue sky if a storm is approaching.

Avoid flag poles, utility poles, isolated trees, open fields, metal bleachers, metal fences, covered patios, and convertible cars. Lightning often strikes the tallest object. Metal does not attract lightning, but it is a conduit for any electrical charge. Be sure you are not higher than your surroundings or YOU could be the conduit.

If you feel the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, lightning may strike very near you in a matter of moments. Crouch down and hug your knees. If you can, balance yourself on the balls of your feet. The less contact you have with the ground the better.

Get out of and completely away from the water. Don't stand in puddles of water even if you are wearing rubber boots.

Avoid Unsafe Shelters: A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout is not safe. Plumbing and wiring provide grounding; a small outdoor shelter may shield you from rain and wind, but it will not protect you from lightning.

Don't rely on the fact that taller objects may draw the lightning away from you. The electrical charge will likely spread out along the surface of the ground for a distance of more than 100 feet.

Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter. Don't be fooled by sunshine or blue sky! Lightning is more likely to come from the back edge of a thundercloud than from the front edge.

Visit these sites for more information.

Information taken largely from an Oklahoma State University training site on lightning safety

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