March 5, 1999 | By: Ellen Brightwell

The showers that bring spring flowers also bring a higher risk that lightning could strike people at work or play.

"Thunderstorms tend to be more numerous in the spring because weather patterns are more active as they pass through Kentucky. This increases the chance that lightning could strike you during this time of year," said Tom Priddy, meteorologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

"However, we need to remember that lightning can come from a thunderstorm any time of the year," he added. "Most people don't realize that lightning strikes the earth 100 times each second."

Lightning injures more people than it kills, according to Priddy. Most of the deaths attributed to lightning occur in open fields under trees or around water. People can't be safe in the middle of a golf course, lake, or field with thunderstorms popping all around. It's important to take precautions.

"One of the most important precautions is simply to be aware of an approaching thunderstorm and take shelter before it actually arrives," said Larry Piercy, Extension safety specialist. "Seek shelter inside a building, home or automobile. The best protection is a farm building or home with a properly installed lightning protection system that provides the lightning a direct pathway to ground. Check the system periodically to be sure it connected properly and is not damaged.

"Stay away from open doors and windows and avoid standing in small, isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas. This could put you right in the pathway of lightning because electricity looks for the path of least resistance to the ground."

Piercy and Priddy offered the following safety guidelines:

* Do not stand beneath a natural lightning rod such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.

* Avoid projecting above the surrounding landscape as you would by standing on a hilltop, in an open field, on the beach, or on a piece of open farm equipment, especially a tractor or other metal equipment.

* Get off or away from motorcycles, scooters, golf carts and bicycles.

* Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, railroad rails and other metallic pathways which could transmit lightning from some distance away to you.

* In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick canopy of small trees. In an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley, but be alert for flash floods in these areas.

* If you are isolated on a level area and feel your hair stand on end, it might be an indication that lightning is about to strike. Drop to your knees and bend forward putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

Contact: 

Writer: Ellen Brightwell
(606) 257-1376

Sources: Tom Priddy
(606) 257-3000, Ext. 245

Larry Piercy
(606) 257-3000, Ext. 107