Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt, who himself is a lightning strike survivor, announced today the unanimous passage of his Assembly legislative resolution memorializing Governor Hochul to proclaim June 19-25, 2022, as Lightning Safety Awareness Week in New York State.
Lightning kills an average of 47 people in the United States each year and hundreds more are severely injured. National Lightning Safety Awareness Week was established in 2001 to call attention to this underrated killer. Since its inception, lightning fatalities in the United States have dropped tremendously and this reduction is largely due to greater awareness of the lightning danger, and people seeking safety when thunderstorms threaten. It is imperative that there be greater public awareness of this serious issue.
“As a lightning strike survivor, I know by experience the impact of raising awareness around the potentially deadly dangers of lightning,” Schmitt stated. “I am proud to have passed my resolution unanimously in the State Assembly and utilize my first-hand experience to protect New Yorkers by making everyone aware of the warning signs. ‘When thunder roars, go indoors’ is a saying I’ve embraced, and I urge others to bear in mind all safety tips and abide by weather warnings, especially with summer upon us.”
Some general safety tips during a thunderstorm provided by the National Weather Service include:
- Find indoor shelter: Get inside the nearest available hard-topped vehicle or building, keep all windows shut, and stay there for at least 30 minutes after the storm passes before returning outside. Avoid picnic tents, pavilions, or other open, outdoor structures.
- Get to low ground: Avoid hilltops and open areas. Lightning seeks the highest ground, so if an indoor shelter is not available, crouching down in the nearest, lowest, unexposed point is a better bet.
- Distance yourself from tall objects: Never stand near tall structures — particularly metal ones — which can act as lightning rods. Avoid lone trees, flagpoles, telephone poles, fences, and antennas.
- Don’t use corded phones: Using a corded phone during a thunderstorm is one of the leading causes of indoor lightning injuries. However, it IS safe to use cordless or cell phones as long as they are not being charged.
- Stay away from windows and doors: Sitting on an open porch to watch a thunderstorm is also dangerous. It is best to be in an interior room during a thunderstorm.
- Don’t touch electrical equipment or cords: Any device that uses electricity (e.g. computers, televisions, household appliances, etc.) is susceptible to a lightning strike. Electrical surges caused by lightning can damage electronics (even at some distance from the actual strike), and a typical surge protector will do little to protect the device (or the person using it) if lightning should strike. So consider unplugging certain appliances or electronics, but for your own safety do this BEFORE the storm arrives.
- Avoid plumbing: Metal plumbing and the water inside are both very good conductors of electricity. Therefore, do not wash your hands or dishes, take a shower or bath, do laundry, etc. during a thunderstorm.
- Refrain from touching concrete surfaces: Lightning can travel through the metal wires or bars in concrete walls and flooring, such as in the basement or garage.
- If inside a vehicle: Roll the windows up and avoid contact with any conducting paths leading to the outside of the vehicle (e.g. metal surfaces, ignition, portable electronic devices plugged in for charging).