Tonight I was introduced to the late Jesse Watlington, a Fort Myers, Fla. sixth-grader who succumbed to a lightning strike on Oct. 3, 2012 (Yes, lightning strikes year round). As the story goes, Watlington, one of the smallest players on his middle school football team, was the first to take to the field for football practice. Moments later, he was struck. His teammates, while they felt an electric surge, went unharmed.
Watlington is the 28th lightning fatality in 2012.
Photo courtesy National Weather Service
A number that is way too high, which leaves me wondering – how can lightning safety education curriculums and lightning prevention systems become more prevalent throughout our nation?
It’s my belief that education juxtaposed with prevention systems will thwart mothers and fathers the heartache of planning funerals for their children, such as the Watlingtons and the Weisbrods did before them.
I hope to have a hand in making that happen – won’t you join me?
Melanie Rossomando of Springfield “freaked out” when her chairlift ride high above the Seaside Heights, N.J. beach stopped as a thunderstorm approached, so she jumped, according to coverage by News12 New Jersey.
Rossomando went on to say that she decided to jump rather than risk being hit by lightning as she celebrated her 17th birthday. A YouTube video shows scared Rossomando kicking off her shoes and jumping off the Sky Ride as dark clouds and heavy winds roll in.
…I’d be right there with you, Rossomando.
As National Lightning Awareness Week (June 24-30, 2012) continues, A Flash of Light urges all property owners to take extra precautions. While Mother Nature may be unpredictable, there are ways to reduce the chances of lightning-related destruction.
One way, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), is to install a whole-house/building surge protector. Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of a lightning bolt; they will not protect against a direct strike. The system works by receiving the strike and routing it harmlessly into the ground.
Other recommendations from IBHS include:
- Unplug electronic equipment.
- Know the important difference between a surge suppressor and a power strip. A power strip plugs into your wall outlet and allows you to plug in multiple electronic devices. However, a power strip does not protect equipment from being damaged by a power spike. A surge protector also gives the user the ability to plug in multiple electronic devices, but it also serves another very important function in that it also protects your electronic devices from a power spike.
- Connect telephone, cable/satellite TV and network lines to a surge suppressor.
- Make sure the surge suppressor has an indicator light so you know it is working properly.
- Ensure the surge suppressor has been tested.
- Purchase a surge suppressor with a Joule rating of over 1,000. The Joule rating typically ranges from 200 up to several thousand – the higher the number the better.
- Look for a surge suppressor with a clamping voltage rating (voltage at which the protector will conduct the electricity to ground) between 330 v, which is typical, to 400 v.
- Purchase a surge suppressor with a response time less than 1 nanosecond.
- Do not cut corners. You don’t want to protect a $1,000 television or computer system with a $10 surge protector, for $25 and up you can provide much better protection
- Have a licensed electrician or home/building inspector review the power, telephone, electrical and cable/satellite TV connections to your office building/home.
For additional information, visit DisasterSafety.org/lightning.
Filed under News, Science
My “me time” often consists of either working out at the gym (addicted!) or reading fitness/health blogs. I consider Peanut Butter Fingers, The Fitnessista, Bess Be Fit, Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, Healthy Tipping Point and Squats and Squash my friends (just like in real life when I invite friends to a “party,” I’m sure I’m “forgetting” someone).
While reading Healthy Tipping Point blogger Caitlin Boyle‘s post “Thwarted,” I was surprised to read: And then we get there and – BAM! – the (indoor) pool is closed because of lightening (??).
And, that got me thinking about lightning and indoor aquatics safety…
- If lightning strikes the ground near to an indoor pool, depending upon localized circumstances, it may be conducted into the building via low resistance conductors. (According to insurance information, the ratio of damage due to indirect effects vs. direct effects is a ratio of some 2000:1.)
- Observable lightning effects inside pool buildings have included: main circulation pump destroyed; injuries to employees touching electrical panels; concrete footing of slide blown apart; and visible lightning inside natatorium.
- Six states have recommendations or regulations for suspending indoor pool activities when under lightning threat: Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Michigan. Delaware’s state code reads “during electrical storms the use of a pool (indoor or outdoor) shall be prohibited.”
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) describes building interior pool hazards during thunderstorms.
- National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), American College of Emergency Physicians, US Swimming, Inc. and the YMCA Services Corporation all have have recommended indoor pool activity suspension when nearby thunderstorms threaten.
- All pool buildings should be equipped with lightning protection as specified in the most recent version of National Fire Protection Association NFPA-780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems.
(* These “facts” were found via “Lightning and Aquatics Safety: A Cautionary Perspective for Indoor Pools” and their noted references.)
“There is a built-in conflict between indoor pool activities and lightning safety. Both recreational swimming and competitive swimming events are based upon three icons of Entertainment, Health, and Pleasure. Lightning safety is founded on stopping all those forms of enjoyment,” according to President & CEO Richard Kithil of National Lightning Safety Institute.
Tom Griffiths and Matthew Griffith see the situation differently – “The truth is, the practice of clearing indoor pools during outside thunderstorms does not keep people safe and, in many cases, may put them in higher-risk situations.”
In their article, “When Lightning Strikes: Should you close your indoor pool when lightning approaches? The answer may surprise you,” Griffiths and Griffith outlines the higher-risk situations pool-goers experience when their indoor pool is closed due to a storm.
High Risk Situations Due to Indoor Pool Closures:
- When an indoor pool is cleared, guests go to the locker rooms, where they shower before changing. There have been numerous cases of reported shocks and electrocutions of people in showers and bathtubs or at sinks washing their hands. Just standing near metallic plumbing systems and metallic drainage systems carries the possibility of shock (actual documented cases).
- There are inevitably children who need to call for a ride home. Again, there are reports every year of people injured from being shocked while using landline telephones. (This is the mechanism most frequently used by lightning to enter a building.) Even if these practices are banned and monitored, people are still allowed to leave the facility.
- In 98 percent (44 out of 45) of the fatalities attributed to lightning in the United States during 2007, the people were outside. When people leave the facility and run across the parking lot to their car, they are exposed to a direct strike. Car accidents increase as well during thunderstorms due to hazardous road conditions. It is clear that closing indoor pools actually puts people at higher risk of being injured by lightning than allowing them to keep swimming.
The bottom line: People come to an indoor swimming facility to have fun and exercise and it’s nearly impossible to eliminate all risk associated with pools without also eliminating the numerous benefits associated with them.
Filed under News, Science
It’s been an honor keeping Lee Weisbrod‘s memory alive. It’s also an honor to be recognized for a hobby that continues to touch so many people…be sure to read today’s front page news story, “For families that lose a child, ‘a part of you dies’,” in The Record…you may see someone you know featured. 😉
And, a special hello to my new visitors…whether you found me through The Record article or some other avenue, I’m glad you’re here. Be sure to stay awhile, learn something and, of course, say hello!
No matter what news source I’m reading, my brain and eyes immediately register “lightning strike.” It’s without fail the first click I make with my mouse. Today, I stumbled upon an article titled “Edwards County man struck by lightning while sleeping” featured on KSAT.com, which was featured CNN U.S.‘s homepage.
Apparently, Cheval Silva was struck by lightning while soundly sleeping in his house. The article reads, “A bolt of lightning had come through the roof and struck his shoulder and exited his foot, catching both him and his favorite chair on fire.”
Luckily for Silva, and his granddaughter who was sleeping nearby and unharmed, he only sustained some nerve damage.
Articles such as this have been featured on the blog from time to time. They always get me thinking why some live while others die from a lightning strike. There’s no rhyme or reason…the only comfort I’ve received, to this day, is to think those who have died from a lightning strike had bigger plans in store “upstairs.” Yup, I’m going with that.
Filed under News, Personal
According to an article published by The Washington Post entitled “Record low for lightning deaths in 2011 but tornado deaths third highest; why the disparity?,”
“lightning deaths were lowest in the 71-years of record keeping. Just 26 people were killed by lightning in 2011, which is amazing considering the frequency of violent severe weather outbreaks across the U.S. By comparison, 551 people were killed by tornadoes in 2011, the most since 1950 and third highest on record according to NOAA.”
Why so few lightning deaths?
The article credits “a successful public education campaign,” as stated by John Jensenius, the National Weather Service‘s lightning expert.
“In large part, the reduction in lightning fatalities is due to the efforts of many people and organizations who help educate the public on the dangers of lightning and make the public more aware of our lightning safety recommendations,” he said.
When I started this blog in September of 2008, I wrote, “It is in this weblog that I plan to show North Jersey’s progression of installing the lightning detection as well as promoting awareness.” Today, in January of 2012, I am proud to say that I have had a hand in changing the lightning death statistics. I’d like to think that this blog – despite its small stature compared to the vast Internet world, has made a difference.
I’d also like to thank you, the reader, because without you reading (and learning), those statistics wouldn’t have changed.
And, of course, I’d like to thank Lee Weisbrod. This new finding further proves that his death was not in vain.
Here’s to keeping lightning deaths at a minimum…
Filed under News, Personal