Lightning is wreaking havoc in Florida. In the past week, lightning struck and killed two giraffes at the Lion County Safari in Loxahatchee. As if that was not unusual enough, a motorcyclist was struck and killed on his bike, while driving on I-95, in Volusia County.
“Lightning is such a common occurrence in Florida we often dismiss its dangers” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent motorcycle insurance agency.
Motorcyclist are especially vulnerable to lightning strikes because they lack the protection of a car’s metal shell, reports The National Lightning Safety Council, John Jensenius. It is a common misconception that the rubber on the tires of the bike will keep you safe.
Jensenius was also quick to debunk another myth, that a motorcyclist can outrun lightning, if you are traveling fast enough you cannot be struck. However, lightning travels too quickly to be outrun by humans.
The Weather Channel reports the motorcyclist who died in Florida is the 12th person killed in a motorcycle-related lighting death in the U.S. since 2006.
Lightning kills and injures more people in Florida than any other state. The Red Cross reports, more people are killed every year by lightning strikes, than tornadoes and hurricanes. Thunderstorms produce lightning along with damaging winds and heavy rain that can cause flooding.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates, 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in the U. S. every year. Lightning can strike more than 10 miles from where it is raining. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose a threat.
All thunderstorms produce lightning. Lightning strikes cause horrific injuries. Being struck can cause burns, serious lifelong pain and permanent neurological disabilities, as well as cardiac arrest and death.
Some safety tips to heed during a thunderstorm are listed below.
When thunder roars, go indoors. There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. If you are in the water, get out immediately. Avoid open structures such as gazebos, porches and baseball dugouts.
Lightning tends to strike the tallest object in the area and you do not want that to be you. If you are caught in an open area, such as a golf course or ball field, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you crouch down into a ball position, with your feet and knees together with your head tucked and your hands over your ears. The idea is to get low without touching the ground. Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly from over 100 feet away.
If you are in a group spread out from one another to reduce the number of injuries if lighting strikes the ground.
Wait to go outside for 30 minutes after you hear the last thunderclap.
Someone who is struck does not carry and electrical charge and requires medical attention immediately.