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Did you know that a typical lightning flash is about 300 million volts and about 30,000 amps? By comparison, a household current is 120 volts and 15 amps.

Lightning is one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena, ranking #2 behind floods. According to the National Weather Service, an average of 51 people each year are killed by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured.  To date, there have been seven lightning fatalities in 2014 – four in Florida, and one in Michigan, New Mexico, and Texas.

Lightning Safety Week, June 22 – 28, 2014, is devoted to raising awareness about the dangers of lightning.  Here are some important facts you may not know:

Lightning can strike as far as ten miles away from any rainfall; it can travel sideways for up to 10 miles.  Whenever you hear thunder there is the danger of lightning, so consider thunder an early warning sign for lightning. If lightning can be seen or heard, the danger is already present.

Being outdoors is the most dangerous place during a lightning storm. At the first sign of a storm, seek shelter in a sturdy building or a hard-top vehicle.  Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires

When indoors:

  • Avoid contact with anything that can conduct a lightning strike such as corded phones, computers, plumbing, metal doors, and window frames.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets. That means avoid washing your hands, taking a shower or bath, doing laundry, or washing dishes.
  • Stay away from porches, windows, and doors.
  • Never lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  • If your home is struck by lightning immediately check every room in your house for electrical fires, including the attic.
  • Wait a half-hour after stop seeing lightning or stop hearing thunder before going back outside.

If you are caught outdoors:

  • Seek the lowest point and be the lowest point.
  • Avoid open areas, tall trees, rock enclosures, and keep away from electrical equipment, poles, fences, and wiring.
  • Stay away from anything metal – electrical equipment, poles, fences, and wiring.
  • Do not lie flat on the ground
  • Immediately get out and away from any body of water.
  • Don’t stand in or near puddles of water.
  • If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware.

If someone is struck by lightning:

  • Call 9-1-1 and get medical care immediately.
  • Check the victims breathing, heartbeat and pulse
  • CPR may be needed.
  • Don’t be scared to assist; victims struck by lightning carry no electrical charge.

For more information on lightning, visit the National Weather Service Lightning Safety page.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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