This year, from June 23rd to 29th, the National Weather Service is commemorating Lightning Safety Week. This is an important educational week for them, and us, because summer is the peak season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena--lightning. Though lightning strikes peak in summer, people are struck year round. In the United States, according to the latest NFPA report, local fire departments respond to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires cause an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year.
Lightning is also one of the major causes of wildfires due to its ability to ignite trees, brush and grass. According to the report, the average number of acres burned per fire is much higher in lightning fires than in fires caused by humans. The National Interagency Fire Center statistics show that in 2008-2012, an average of 9,000 (12%) of reported wildland fires were started by lightning per year; the average lightning-caused wildfire burned 402 acres, nine times the average of 45 acres per human-caused fire.
The National Weather Service has provided many educational resources on their website, including information on;
- Safety: Learn what you need to do to stay safe when thunderstorms threaten.
- Victims: Learn what happens to people who are struck by lightning and look at fatality statistics for the U.S.
- Science: Learn how thunderstorms develop and what happens during a lightning discharge.
- Myths and Facts: Get answers to many of the questions you have always wondered about
- Teachers: find curriculum guides, presentations games, activities, and more.
- Kids: Download games, videos, coloring pages and other fun stuff.
- More Resources: Download toolkits, posters, pamphlets, and other information to help communities, organizations, and families stay safe from the dangers of lightning
In addition, NFPA offers lightning safety tips in an easy to read tip sheet. Check them out above or download these NFPA safety tips on lightning.