Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Safety key during peak lightning season | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Safety key during peak lightning season

Ryan Sommers
Chief’s Corner

TAHOE-TRUCKEE — As we've been experiencing lately, fires started by lightning at Tahoe-Truckee peak in the summer months and in the late afternoon and early evening.

Know what to do to keep you and your family safe when storms strike:

• If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Look for shelter inside a home, large building, or a hard-topped vehicle right away.

• Do not go under trees for shelter. There is no place outside that is safe during a thunderstorm.

• Wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before leaving your shelter.

• Stay away from windows and doors. Stay off porches.

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• There is no safe place outside. Places with only a roof on sports fields, golf courses, and picnic areas are not safe during a lightning storm. Small sheds should not be used.

• If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1. Get medical help right away.

Facts & figures from National Fire Protection Association:

• During 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 24,600 fires started by lightning. These fires caused annual averages of 12 civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries, and $407 million in direct property damage.

• More than half of fires caused by lightning occur outdoors. Deaths and injuries from lightning fires are small, but the dollar loss is more than $400 million per year.

• In 2004-2008, only 18% of reported lightning fires occurred in homes, but these accounted for 88% of the civilian deaths, 77% of the associated injuries and 70% of the property damage.

For more information on lightning safety please visit http://www.nfpa.org.

"Chief's Corner" is a regular feature from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Interim Chief Ryan Sommers, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.