As the monsoon rapidly approaches, it is extremely important to recognize the dangers commonly associated with the thunderstorms that are typically seen during this time period. One of the most common weather hazards seen during the monsoon is lightning. Compared to other weather hazards, only flooding causes more annual fatalities. In order to ensure safety during the upcoming monsoon, it is critical to follow these guidelines that have been outlined by the National Weather Service in Tucson.
LIGHTNING SAFETY GUIDELINES
When to Take Action: When determining whether action is required, it is helpful to remember the phrase "When thunder roars, go indoors". Studies have shown that lightning can strike up to 10 miles outside of an area seeing rain; a lack of rain by no means implies that there will be an absence of lightning. Typical convention to approximate an individual's distance from lightning starts by counting the seconds between a strike or flash of lightning and the sound of thunder. Taking this time and dividing by 5, gives a good approximation of how many miles you are from the lightning. Although this convention can be a good tool to use, it is best to seek shelter immediately upon hearing thunder, regardless if there is visible lightning.
Where to Go: It is extremely important to know where to seek shelter during a thunderstorm. The safest places to go during a thunderstorm are large, enclosed buildings that have electrical wiring and plumbing. In the event that lightning strikes the building, the electrical wiring and plumbing conducts electricity much more efficiently than a human body. Examples of these structures include office buildings and schools, as well as private residences. If you are unable to reach an enclosed building, an enclosed vehicle is a good alternative.
Where NOT to Go: Buildings that are not enclosed still leave you in danger of lightning. Metal sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, and porches are not safe places to go during a thunderstorm. In addition, convertibles and other open vehicles such as construction equipment are not safe when lightning is in the area.
What to Do: Upon taking shelter, it is also recommended to take the following precautions. In an enclosed building, stay clear of electrical appliances, and if possible, settle yourself in an interior room for the duration of the thunderstorm. If shelter is taken in a vehicle, roll the windows up and avoid contact with the radio and ignition, as these can be conducting paths if the car is struck by lightning.
What NOT to Do: Do not use electrical appliances. Lightning can travel great distances through power lines, so it is best to avoid the use of corded phones and computers during thunderstorms. In addition, do not use showers or take baths until thunderstorms have left the area.
When it comes to lightning safety, combining these guidelines with a little common sense will take you a long way during the upcoming monsoon. If you hear thunder go inside, and do not return to outdoor activities until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. In addition, be sure to stay up to date on weather forecasts. Having a plan of where you can seek shelter in the event of a thunderstorm will help ensure your safety. Stay tuned to Tucson News Now this monsoon for forecasts and coverage of thunderstorms impacting the area.