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Lightning Safety is a Big Part of Summer Plans


Lightning strikes lit up the sky in central Illinois this
weekend, just before the start of Lightning Safety Awareness Week. The National
Weather Service and Illinois Emergency Management Agency use the first week of
summer every year to remind people how to stay safe during storms.

About 50 people are killed by lightning, every year across
the U.S. In total, 1,000 people sustain injuries. Experts say those numbers are
dropping thanks to education. Still, there are misconceptions about lightning and
some risk-takers have learned a few of those, first hand.

One tip to remember when lightning strikes is to take
shelter. That means moving to a location that is enclosed on all sides, and not
just from above. It's a message that hit a little too close to home for a Curran

"We used to always light to sit on our front porch,
it's a covered front porch, and watch the thunderstorms. I had just went in the
house and my brother and husband were still on the porch watching and the lightning
struck a tree right next to the porch," Vicki Mathis said.

Mathis says the two could feel the lightning strike. Fortunately,
no one was injured, but they did learn a lesson.

"We don't sit on the porch anymore," Mathis said.

Many people think a storm isn't dangerous until a warning is
issued by the National Weather Service, but Warning Coordination Meteorologist Chris
Miller at the Lincoln office says that's not the case.

"Any thunderstorm, by definition, can produce
lightning. You don't have to have a warning out for that storm," Miller

Any time there is lightning; there is a risk of major
injuries or even death. While most lightning strikes are not fatal, they still
come with lasting effects such
as burns, nerve damage, and severe headaches.

"When you hear
that rumble of thunder, when you see that lightning striking in the distance,
that's your clue right there that it's within a few miles and you need to get
indoors right away," Miller emphasized.

If caught without an enclosed shelter or car with a hard
top, there are a couple tip to follow to reduce the risk of being struck; seek lower elevation areas, never use a tree
for shelter, and stay away
from water and metallic objects

The best case scenario is to never be caught out in the open
during a thunderstorm. Check local weather forecasts before heading outdoors
for any event, and if there are storm clouds, check for weather updates see if
it’s time to seek shelter.

Lightning Safety is a Big Part of Summer Plans

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