Lightning Safety and Soccer -
Anyone who is outside in the summer needs to understand some basic information about lightning. Each year, thunderstorms produce an estimated 20 to 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in the United States — each one of those flashes is a potential killer. Based on cases documented by the National Weather Service in recent years, about 30 people are killed by lightning each year and hundreds more are injured, some suffering devastating neurological injuries that persist for the rest of their lives.
About two thirds of the deaths are associated with outdoor recreational activities (sports, water activities, walking, hiking etc.). Sports activities account for approximately 14% of the deaths by lightning.
When should activities be stopped? - Activities will be stopped or suspended when lightning/thunder activity is 7-10 miles away. In general, a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles. It’s important to account for the time it will take for everyone to get to safety. Here are some criteria that could be used to stop activities.
- If you see lightning. The ability to see lightning varies depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and obstructions such as trees, mountains, etc. In clear air, and especially at night, lightning can be seen from storms more than 10 miles away provided that obstructions don’t limit the view of the thunderstorm.
- If you hear thunder. Thunder can usually be heard for a distance of about 10 miles provided that there is no background noise. Traffic, wind, and precipitation may limit the ability to hear thunder to less than 10 miles. If you hear thunder, though, it’s a safe bet that the storm is within ten miles.
- If the skies look threatening. Thunderstorms can develop directly overhead and some storms may develop lightning just as they move into an area.