And on average, lightning kills three people and injures 12 others each year in Colorado. According to the National Weather Service, El Paso County has the has the most lightning related casualties.
All 16 people killed by lightning in the United States last year were involved in outdoor activities when they were struck. Outdoor activities are popular here in Colorado and that puts many of us at risk when storms develop.
So, here are a few safety measures you can take:
1. Get outdoor activities in early
-Lightning strikes here are most common during the late morning and afternoon hours. Start hikes and outdoor activities early in the day and plan to be done before 11am, if possible.
2. Know the forecast
-Check the forecast when making outdoor plans. If storms are expected, have an indoor backup and a way to check the radar, like our First Alert 5 Weather App. And always know where your nearest shelter is when venturing outside.
3. Find shelter immediately when you hear thunder
-Don’t wait until the storm reaches you. Lightning can strike over 10 miles from where the rain and hail are in a storm. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Remember, “when thunder roars, go indoors”. Seek shelter in a sturdy structure or automobile and remain there until at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
4. Avoid things that attract lightning
-If you are absolutely stuck outside you want to avoid things that attract lightning like isolated trees, tall trees, water, and metal. Find an area away from any of those and try to stay low to the ground with your feet together and protect your head. This is a last resort, shelter is always your best option.
As a side note, it’s important to remember that if someone near you is ever struck by lightning, they do not carry any sort of electrical charge. Do not be afraid to help them and start c-p-r if necessary. It could save their life.