Did you know that Canada averages over 2 million lightning strikes each year and that annually between 9 and 10 people are killed and over 160 people are injured by lightning. More than 94% of lightning related deaths and 74% of injuries have occurred between June and August (summer season). Additionally, the vast majority of deaths/injuries occur in the Thursday to Saturday period. The school of thought is this is related to higher rates of outdoor activity (i.e., weekends).
If you hear thunder, take shelter immediately. If you cannot find a sturdy, fully enclosed building, get into an all-metal vehicle (not a convertible) as it is the metal cage that protects you from lightning. Regrettably this guideline is becoming a challenge for some farmers caught in their fields as tractors and other large farm equipment, traditionally made out of steel, are being replaced with materials like fiberglass and plastic.
If you shelter indoors, stay away from electrical appliances and equipment, doors, windows, fireplaces, and anything else that will conduct electricity, such as water—so delay taking a shower, doing laundry, or washing the dishes by hand. Being indoors does not guarantee your safety.
Use battery operated or cordless devices only as electrical current from the lightning strike will travel through wires and cords using the path of least resistance. If your equipment is directly connected to a power source and/or internet feed, then you are not safe. If you are using equipment with no wire connecting it to a power source (e.g., wireless laptop), then you are safe.
If caught outside away from safe shelter, do not stand near tall objects such as trees, poles, wires and fences or anything made of metal, avoid open water and take shelter in a low-lying area, keeping an eye out for possible flooding. Note that picnic shelters, dugouts, and small buildings without plumbing or electricity are not safe. If caught on the water, quickly get to shore.
If you are in your vehicle during lightning, do not park under tall objects that could topple, and do not get out if there are downed power lines nearby. You are safe inside, but you may receive a shock if you step outside. If you see a downed powerline, call 911 or Battle River Power Coop at 1.877.428.3972.
Once in, or at, the safest location available to you, remain there for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder is heard before resuming any outdoor activities. Remember, every time you hear thunder rumble you need to restart the clock until 30 minutes has passed.
If you encounter someone that has been struck by lightning, it is important to note that Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge; however, victims may be suffering from burns or shock and should receive medical attention immediately. Call 911 and if breathing has stopped, administer mouth-to-mouth or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Remember when thunder roars, GO INDOORS!