Visitors and residents of Colorado love to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. Unfortunately, our love of exploration leads to an increased likelihood of being struck by lightning.
From 2010 to 2019, Colorado tied for 6th place in the United States of lightning fatalities. Data from Vaisala, in a similar timespan, ranks Colorado 31st in lightning density (lightning count per square mile).
Per the National Weather Service, most lightning-related injuries and fatalities in Colorado occur during the months of June, July, and August, our peak thunderstorm season. And these injuries usually happen in the early afternoon as thunderstorms develop in Colorado.
In Colorado, El Paso County ranks number 1 for lightning fatalities and injuries combined, with 84 injuries and 10 fatalities since 1980.
The Pikes Peak and Palmer Divide region is a lightning hot spot, where the terrain enhances thunderstorm development.
While all that being said, it's important to take precautions to avoid being struck. In general, no place outdoors is safe during lightning. If you can see or hear lightning, you are close enough to be struck. Stay in a shelter at least 30 minutes after the last strike.
If you are outside
- seek shelter in a building or car, if possible
- hike downhill as fast as possible
- do not seek shelter under a tree or in a tent
- spread out from your companions to avoid group strikes
- drop all metal objects (fishing poles, hiking poles, etc.)
- immediately get out of bodies of water (lakes, rivers, ponds, etc.)
If you are inside
- avoid using or being close to corded electronics
- avoid contact with plumbing (do not shower, use sink, etc.)
- stay away from windows, porches, and the garage
Download the First Alert5 weather app to take with you, wherever you go.
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