NASHVILLE – With thunderstorm activity expected throughout the spring season, the State Fire Marshal’s Office wants Tennesseans to be familiar with the risks and precautions involving lightning.
“We urge the public to be aware of the fire hazards posed by lightning,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “As spring weather gives rise to storm activity, it is important to monitor weather conditions and know what to do to keep you and your family safe.”
According to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System (TFIRS), from 2012-2016, 918 fires started by lightning were reported. Over half (493) were building fires. These fires caused one civilian death, one civilian injury, 16 firefighter injuries and $30,617,306 of property damage.
Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. Because of this, many lightning deaths occur ahead of storms or after storms have seemingly passed.
The following tips can help greatly reduce the risk posed by lightning:
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 tall trees for shelter. There is no place outside that is safe during a thunderstorm. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before leaving your shelter.
Stay away from windows and doors.
If you are in or on open water, go to land and seek shelter immediately.
If you feel your hair stand on end, that means lightning is about to strike. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. Do not lie flat on the ground. This is a last resort when a building or hard-topped vehicle is not available.
If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 and get medical care immediately. Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge; attend to them immediately. Check their breathing, heartbeat and pulse. They might need CPR to be administered.
Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. If you are unable to unplug them, turn them off.
Stay off corded phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing.
Avoid washing your hands, bathing, doing laundry or washing dishes.
As always, your home should have working smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
Any smoke alarms over 10 years old should be replaced.
For the best in fire protection, consider the installation of home fire sprinklers. Sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
Check your home for yellow corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). Yellow CSST is a flexible, stainless steel pipe used since 1989 to supply natural gas and propane in many buildings. People who have Yellow CSST in their home are encouraged to utilize a licensed electrical contractor to make sure the tubing is grounded and bonded to help prevent fires caused by lightning. Learn more here.
– See more at: https://www.tn.gov/news/50283#sthash.HsQT0KmO.dpuf