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Take heed of lightning

Thunderstorms and lightning are in the forecast for the next few days, and federal experts urge people follow this simple rule: “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

Lightning kills an average of 55 to 60 people a year in the country. But 90 percent of those who are struck survive, often with permanent neurological disabilities. Eighty percent of lightning fatalities occur among men who were fishing, boating, golfing, biking, or working outdoors, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

To be safe, officials urge residents to remember the 30/30 rule: If you see lightning and cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up. Stay in the safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

When indoors, here are other safety tips:

∎ Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.

∎ Stay away from plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.

∎ Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

∎ Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Outdoor risk reduction tips include:

∎ If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.

∎ In an open area go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.

∎ On open water get to land and find shelter immediately.

∎ Never lie flat on the ground.

∎ Never shelter under an isolated tree.

∎ Get away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.

∎ 7. Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

To find out more and for resources to help teachers, communities, organizations and families stay safe from lightning dangers, go to www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning or www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov .

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