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
The most recent snowstorm of Wednesday evening into Thursday morning that blanketed the Pascack Valley area packed a serious punch… and that punch was clearly visible and even audible.
Along with the 10 inches of snow, a rare and little-known phenomenon known as “thundersnow” rumbled over parts of the Pascack Valley.
The Pascack Valley area experienced "thundersnow" during the Jan. 26-Jan. 27 snowstorm.
According to National Geographic News, thundersnow—when thunder and lighting occur during a snowstorm—most often appears in late winter or early spring.
Thundersnow works similarly to a summer thunderstorm – the sun heats the ground and pushes masses of warm, moist air upward, creating unstable air columns. As the columns rise, the moisture condenses to form clouds. The element that makes thundersnow so rare is that the atmospheric instability that needs to be present is typically not present in the wintertime.
According to National Geographic News, thundersnow only occurs when “the air layer closer to the ground is warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow – a very precise circumstance.”
Residents of the Pascack Valley are no stranger to the rare phenomenon after last night/this morning’s rapid snowfall rates. In fact, experts agree that rapid snowfall rate, more than two inches an hour, is connected to thundersnow.
Did you hear the rumble yet miss the lightning bolt? That’s expected, according to scientists. During thundersnow, the sky simply gets bright (with no visible lightning bolt present) and moments later a rumble of thunder is heard.
Did you witness the thundersnow and have similar views to Stephen Colbert’s? Post your stories/comment below!
Filed under News, Science
“Bergen County started investing in lightning detection systems following the deaths in 2006 of two teenagers on a Montvale soccer field.”
– ‘Lightning detection systems becoming standard for North Jersey fields‘
from The Bergen Record, Sunday, July 25, 2010
… one life can make a difference. (Thank you, Lee Weisbrod and Steve Fagan.)
Yesterday my area of Bergen County received not one but two lengthy and powerful thunderstorms both of which made me want to crawl in bed and hide for their duration.
Unfortunately, the first canceled a trip to the beach that my family had planned for the day. Luckily, we didn’t suffer an attack from Mother Nature, like one local family did.
About 10 minutes away in the neighboring town of Emerson, one family awoke on Monday morning to a small fire and leaving a gaping hole of about 6 inches in their one-family home’s attached garage. The cause: a lightning bolt strike.
Read the full story here: http://www.northjersey.com/news/071910_Lightning_bolt_causes_Emerson_garage_fire.html
Thank God I don’t live in Texas. I think I’d have an anxiety attack if I looked out my window and saw this.
Many individuals are still naive about the power of lightning and the ability to have lightning strike to anyone while doing any activity – whether it be playing an outdoor sport event or blow drying your hair during a thunderstorm. In speaking with a friend of mine that I’ve had for twelve years and counting, she was quick to fill me in on a work conversation that she couldn’t help but interrupt.
Apparently, a coworker of hers is a lacrosse coach. While playing a game on a turf field the other day, the ref stopped the game to everyone’s surprise. All the kids were asked to drop their lacrosse sticks on the field and to go inside the building to safety while the parents manned the metal bleachers. When the rain stopped, the ref called the game due to lightning in the area and would not let the kids return to the field to collect their lacrosse sticks, which were collect my their parents who still remained in ‘the danger zone.’ The coworker concluded his story with – “What are the chances of actually getting hit? What’s the big deal?” Insert a joking remark from another coworker.
And that’s when “I set him straight,” said my friend, who was right along side me during the passing of our friend, Lee Weisbrod, due to getting struck by lightning while playing soccer on a field.
It should come at no surprise that a game is canceled due to lightning in the area. A coach, especially, should put the safety of his players before a W scribbled in his notebook. I commend the ref and hope that one day the naive remarks stop all together… you never know who is listening.
In the March 22, 2010 issue of The Northern Valley Press, an article entitled “Don’t Be Shocked By Lightning Related Property Loss” appeared. The article proved to be very informative.
Check it out!