Lightening

Environmental Conditions
NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource

Postpone or suspend activity if a thunderstorm appears imminent before or during an activity or contest (irrespective of whether lightening is seen or thunder is heard) until the hazard has passed. Signs of imminent thunderstorm activity are darkening clouds, high winds, and thunder and/or lightening activity. For more information, log onto http://www.nata.org, then click on Publications > Position Statements.

IF YOU HEAR IT, CLEAR IT; IF YOU SEE IT, FLEE IT!

Important Lightening information if no safe area is accessible:

  1. Flash-to-Bang Count: Use the flash-to-bang count to determine distance of a storm. Begin counting when sighting a lightening flash. Stop counting when the associated bang (thunder) is heard. Divide this count by five to determine the distance to the lightening flash (in miles). For example, a flash-to-bang count of thirty seconds equates to a distance of six miles. Lightening has struck from as far away as 10 miles from the storm center. By the time the flash-to-bang count approaches thirty seconds all individuals should be already inside a safe structure.

  2. Avoid being at the highest point in an open field or in proximity to the highest point, as well as being on open water. Therefore, do not take shelter under or near trees, flagpoles, or light poles.

  3. If you feel your hair stand on end, skin tingle, or hear “crackling” noises, assume the lightening safe position: crouch on the ground, weight on the balls of the feet, feet together, head lowered and ears covered.

  4. Basic First-Aid procedures for managing an athlete of a lightening strike:
    1. Survey the scene for safety
    2. Activate 911 or the local emergency number
    3. If necessary, move the victim carefully to a safer location. Lightening victims DO NOT carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch.
    4. Evaluate airway, breathing, and circulation. Begin CPR if necessary.
    5. Evaluate and treat for hypothermia, shock, fractures and/or burns.

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