Severe weather has been sweeping our area recently. Friday around 3 p.m. there were over 5000 lightning strikes within the hour.
Eight lightning-related deaths have been reported across the country so far this year, and severe weather season is just beginning. Muscogee County Fire Marshal Chief Ricky Shores says the recent lightning storms in the area aren't exactly a regular occurrence.
"We're obviously in an overall weather pattern that's conducive to lightning strikes around the area," he says. "We've got a lot of moisture coming out of the gulf and there's low-pressure systems sweeping across from the west, so we're going to have a lot more pop-up storms due to the heat."
So how do you protect yourself from the sudden electrical currents?
Chief Shores suggests, "The rule of thumb is that if you see lightning or you hear thunder, don't go outdoors if you don't have to for at least 30 minutes."
He says one of the biggest misconceptions about lightning safety is that you can hide in a wooded area. In fact, lightning is attracted to trees and you're safest if you go indoors.
"Try to quickly get indoors or in a vehicle, if you can't get indoors, that's got a hard top," says Chief Shores. "Vehicles that are open-topped or small sheds or rain shelters really don't offer that much protection at all."
While it's best to be inside, your home can still be damaged from lightning if you aren't prepared. "The most important thing you can do to protect your home is make sure that it conforms to your local electric code," Chief Shores says. "Make sure the home is bonded and grounded properly, and you can have a certified electrician come out and make sure they let you know those measures have been taken."
Additionally, if lightning is heavy in your area, you can unplug your electronics just to be safe. Surge protectors only work with singular blasts.
Chief Shores also recommends having a plan of action if you're going to have an outing in the elements this season. Make sure everyone in attendance knows what to do if a storm heads your way.
Just remember, when thunder roars, head indoors.
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