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Summer is the peak season for one of the nationís deadliest weather phenomena Ė lightning.  In the
United States, an average of 66 people is killed each year by lightning.  In 2004, there were 32 deaths
attributed to lightning, down from 44 thanks in part to increased education and safety.  In 2005, there were
43 confirmed deaths and 172 confirmed injuries.  The injury number is likely far lower than it actually is
because many people do not seek help or doctors do not report it as a lightning injury.

            Lightning is a serious danger.  In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million cloud-to
ground lightning flashes each year.  Lightning can be fascinating to watch, but it is also extremely
dangerous.  Few people really understand the dangers of lightning. 

            Although some victims are struck directly by the main lightning strike, many victims are struck as
the current moves in and along the ground. While almost all people take some protective actions during the
most dangerous part of thunderstorms, many leave themselves vulnerable to being struck by lightning as
thunderstorms approach, depart, or are nearby.

     Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm.  Thatís about the
distance you can hear thunder.  When a storm is 10 miles away, it may even be difficult to tell a storm is
coming.  If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance.  Seek safe shelter immediately!  The first
strike of lightning is just as deadly as the last.

            Use the 30-30 rule where visibility is good and there is nothing obstructing your view of the
thunderstorm.  When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder.  If that time is 30 seconds or
less, the thunderstorm is within 6 miles of you and is dangerous.  Seek shelter immediately.

            The threat of lightning continues for a much longer period than most people think.  Wait at least 30
minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter.  Donít be fooled by sunshine or blue sky!

            Most lightning deaths and injuries in the United States occur during the summer months when the
combinations of lightning and outdoor summertime activities reach a peak.  People who are outdoors need
to take action in a timely manner when thunderstorms approach.

            Inside homes, people must also be aware of ways to reduce their risk of lightning strikes.  They
should stay away from windows and doors and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity
            Lightning is a dangerous threat to people in the United States, particularly those outside in the
summer.  By using common sense, the number of lightning deaths can be greatly reduced.