THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY
MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
400 Worcester Road Framingham, MA 01702-5399
Tel: 508-820-2000 Fax: 508-820-2030
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Peter Judge, MEMA PIO
July 23, 2008 (508) 820-2002
MEMA CONTINUES TO WARN OF LIGHTNING’S DANGERS
FRAMINGHAM, MA – Recent tragic events, in the Commonwealth, continue to reconfirm the dangers of lightning. This is the time of year when people are spending more time on ball fields, golf courses, beaches and boating. Therefore, it is important to learn measures to help keep you and your family safe during thunderstorms.
“There have been many different incidents of individuals being stuck by lightning this summer,” stated Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Don Boyce. “Most recently, ten soccer players and fans, who sought safety from an approaching storm under a large tree, were severely injured and hospitalized.”
Know how to stay safe.
Before the Thunderstorm
· Know the terms used by weather forecasters
1. Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Tells where and when severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned the Media.
2. Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated on radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
· Before a thunderstorm strikes, keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind.
· If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be affected by lightning, and should go inside to safe shelter immediately.
· Thunderstorms can occur singly, in clusters or in lines. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter, producing heavy rain for a brief period from 30 to 60 minutes.
· When a thunderstorm approaches, secure outdoor objects that could be blown away or cause damage. Shutter windows, if possible, and secure outside doors.
· Remember that lightning can strike up to 10 miles ahead of or after the arrival of the storm. Listen to weather forecasts on NOAA Weather Radio, or to local radio and television stations for the latest information. In general, lightning will travel the easiest route from the clouds to the ground, which means it often strikes the tallest object.
· During this season people are taking part in activities that place them in locations most vulnerable to being struck by lightning, such as on golf courses, ball fields, beaches and large bodies of water. In the U.S., an average of 300 people are injured and almost 80 killed each year by lightning, which is more than tornadoes or hurricanes.
During the Thunderstorm
· If you are caught outside during a thunderstorm, you should protect yourself from lightning by going to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles or metal object, which can serve as a natural lightning rod. (Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding).
· Make yourself the smallest target possible by squatting low to the ground and by placing your hands on your knees with your head between them. Be as low to the ground as possible, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. (Don’t lie flat; this will make you a larger target!).
· Do not stand on a hilltop, in an open field, on a beach or in a boat on the water.
· If boating, or swimming, get to land immediately.
· Avoid isolated sheds or small structures in open areas.
· Get away from anything metal such as tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, rails, and other metallic paths that could carry lightning to you from a distance.
· In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a growth of smaller trees.
· If indoors, avoid metallic objects and fixtures.
· Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
· Avoid using a corded telephone, except for emergencies. Cordless or cellular telephones are safe to use.
· Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers. Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
· Use your battery operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
· Note that rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection, if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes you car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
The National Weather Service (NWS) also offers important information regarding Lightning Safety. That information can be located at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/overview.htm and http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.htm.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA, go to www.mass.gov/mema.
Region I Region II Region III / IV
P.O. Box 116 P.O. Box 54 1002 Suffield Street
365 East Street 12-I Rear Administration Road Agawam, MA 01001
Tewksbury, MA 01876 Bridgewater, MA 02324-0054 Tel: 413-821-1500 Fax: 413-821-1599
Tel: 978-328-1500 Fax: 978-851-8218 Tel: 508-697-3600 Fax: 508-697-8869