(WXYZ) - Lightning Safety Awareness Week continues through this Saturday, June 28.
As you might expect, summer is the peak season for lightning strikes. Since it's also the time of year when the most people are enjoying the great outdoors here in Michigan, the greatest threat to Michigander's safety from thunderstorms comes in the next couple of months.
Already this year in metro Detroit, a 32-year-old man was killed by a lightning strike in Pittsfield Township on June 18. He was one of seven people nationwide who have lost their lives to lightning in 2014.
The theme for this year's Lightning Safety Awareness Week is "When thunder roars, go indoors," which sums up the best and simplest advice anyone can follow regarding lightning. Too often, people wait too long to get inside when storms approach.
Each storm is different, but some thunderstorms can race along at 50 miles per hour or faster, which doesn't give you much time. Until you get inside, it's important to remember two other crucial safety tips:
1. Get out of and way from any water. Water conducts electricity, so it's a very dangerous place to be with lightning around. Get out of pools, get off lakes and streams as quickly as is safely possible.
2. Stay away from tall objects (including trees) and metal objects. They can attract lightning. Some people make the fatal mistake of seeking shelter under a tree during a storm, perhaps to keep them drier. But trees, especially tall and large ones with a full canopy to reduce rain hitting the ground, are favored targets for lightning strikes. In 2012, 60% of lightning fatalities nationwide occurred under or near trees, and the man who lost his life in Pittsfield Township was found under a tree.
The best place to go during a thunderstorm is inside a sturdy, enclosed structure. While inside waiting out the storm, you should avoid water, doors, windows and using any corded device.
You can read more lightning safety tips, any of which could save your life, here: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/
A lot more general information about lightning nationwide, including who is most likely to be killed by lightning, can be found here: http://ht.ly/yjaoe
One of the most often repeated myths involving lightning is that "lightning never strikes the same place twice." As mentioned, lightning often strikes tall and/or metal objects, so such places can be struck many times, sometimes in the same storm. The 900 foot antenna tower at Broadcast House in Southfield is hit several times each year on average, and has been hit twice during the same thunderstorm.
A lot more lightning myths are exposed and explained here: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/facts_truth.htm
It's best to wait thirty minutes after the last lightning strike or thunder rumble to resume outdoor activities. After that, head back out and enjoy all the wonderful outdoorsy things we can do in the summertime in Michigan.
Just keep an eye on the sky and make sure you've got Storm Shield on your mobile device.