Athletes, exercisers and spectators: heed lightning warnings

People who are killed by lightning are often spectators or participants in sporting events. In the United States each year, lightning kills more than 70 people and injures more than 300 people, often permanently. Lightning strikes without warning, so sponsors of outdoor athletic events should have loudspeakers, sirens or horns to alert people to approaching electrical storms.

Water, metal and high objects attract lightning. When an electrical storm starts, try to enter a building or your automobile as quickly as possible. Get in your car, not near it. Standing near a car increases your risk of being struck by lightening because you are standing near metal. To avoid being near metal, get off your bike and away from it when you seek shelter. If you are on the golf course, get away from your golf clubs and carts and anything that contains metal.

If you are in an open field, you are the tallest object and therefore most likely to attract lightening. Standing makes you the tallest object, so if you cannot get to a sheltering building, go to a low spot and crouch down. Avoid being near the tallest object; do not stand under a single tree or by a pole. Standing under a tree that is shorter than other trees in the area is better. It is safer to be in a forest with many trees than to be under a single tree.

Don't stay in or near water. Just being near a lake, ocean or swimming pool increases your chances of being struck by lightning. Water sports such as swimming, fishing and boating increase your risk. Take the lifeguard's warnings or radio bulletins seriously, get out of the water and go to the nearest shelter. Fitness news


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