IOEM Reminds Residents to Stay Safe During National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

JUNE 21, 2024
Contact: Tristan Lewis
(208) 803-5216

IOEM Reminds Residents to Stay Safe During National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

BOISE, ID – As National Lightning Safety Awareness Week approaches, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) urges all Idahoans to take precautions to stay safe and informed about the dangers of lightning. This year, National Lightning Safety Awareness Week runs from June 23 to June 29.

Lightning is a powerful and often underestimated natural event. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in the United States, an average of 33 people are killed and 182 people are injured each year by lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Lightning also poses significant risks to property and the environment. In Eastern Idaho, 47% of wildfires between 2000 and 2020 were caused by lightning. These fires often occur during dry seasons, increasing risk and danger.

Idaho experiences its share of lightning hazards, with the Vaisala Corporation reporting 845,469 lightning events in the state in 2023. High elevation areas are particularly prone to lightning strikes.

Safety Tips Before, During, and After Thunderstorms:

Before Thunderstorms and Lightning:

  • Know Your Risk: Thunderstorms can happen year-round and at any hour. Be aware of your area’s risks.
  • Stay Informed: Sign up for community warning systems and listen to Emergency Alert System (EAS) and NOAA Weather Radio alerts.
  • Prepare Your Property: Trim trees that might fall on your home and consider installing surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning:

  • When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors: Seek shelter in a building immediately.
  • Indoor Safety: Avoid using plumbing or landline phones, as electricity can travel through these systems. Unplug appliances and other electric devices.
  • Water Safety: If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find grounded shelter immediately. If necessary, seek shelter in a hard topped car, but avoid touching anything metal inside the vehicle.
  • Flood Safety: Avoid flooded roadways. Remember, “Turn Around Don’t Drown” – just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot can sweep away your vehicle.

After Thunderstorms and Lightning:

  • Stay Updated: Listen to authorities and weather forecasts to determine when it is safe to go outside. Suspend outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Report Hazards: Watch for and report fallen power lines and trees immediately.

IOEM encourages everyone to create and review safety plans and educate family members about the precautions to take before, during, and after a thunderstorm. By staying informed and prepared, we can build a safer, more resilient Idaho.