Lightning as a hazard is often overlooked, and there is a huge gap in knowledge alongside a large proportion of assumed but inaccurate knowledge about lightning strike. An example of this is within the education system,within the UK where teachers who take children out on a variety of field trips, some in outdoor locations where appropriate shelter may not be available such as outdoor fieldwork activities in rural areas, while not knowing what action to take or believing that they can just apply common sense and this will be best. I recently carried out a survey with a variety of teachers (55) and even disaster managers (4) in the United Kingdom who didn't know about the 30/30 rule - see more below, or how to count using the flash-bang method. Many advised getting away from trees, which is sensible advice, as is finding appropriate strong shelter. The idea is to count the number of seconds between the flash and the bang. However there is a common misconception about this! Many think that every second = 1 mile, but it is in fact every 5 seconds = 1 mile. Also I was always taught to lay down flat on the ground. However this is the WRONG thing to do. Now NOAA, the US Army and others talk about the lightning crouch, which is crouching low, on the balls of your feet with your heels together. This is so that if lightning strikes the ground nearby, it goes in one foot to your heel where it the grounds out, missing internal organs such as the heart and brain. People also don't realise that lightning strike victims can be revived by CPR and the strike is not the same as an electric shock from electricity in a house etc. The reason I ask is that the advice many give to kids and teachers believe, is now seen to be VERY out of date. I am currently polling teachers of Physical Education and Geography here in the UK to find out what advice they would give and follow themselves. So far ALL of them have suggested lying on the ground, which is now considered to be VERY dangerous. What is also interesting is that the fire service in London don't give advice on lightning on their website...A girl was struck last year while chatting on her mobile phone and yet children don't realise they are holding a conductor to their ears....She survived but is still having to use a wheelchair. In the US, I have read that lightning strike is the number two killer after flooding each year...with more deaths than hurricanes or tornadoes (in an average year). Before 1994 in the United States, lightning strikes from 1959-1994 killed 3239 people. And, between 1995 and 2004, another 489 people lost their lives. The reduction in numbers was likely due to increased education about lightning safety. Do you have any other figures on this? In China in 2007, 499 Chinese had been killed up to July 2007 (the year before the 12 month total was 717) source: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PEK193605.htm
. And in 1998 an entire African football team was killed as lightning struck on side of the pitch but not the other: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/203137.stm
On the 18th September 2004 a nationally televised college football game had to be suspended for 88 minutes because of lightning. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) of America have published guidelines in 1997 which led to a 30-30 rule to be developed by them and the American Meterological Society in 1998.
The first 30 refers to the number of seconds between seeing a flash of lightning and hearing the thunder, the so-called "flash-to-bang" method of distance-ranging, that provides a measure of when the lightning is close enough to be viewed as dangerous. A 30-second count corresponds to a distance of about 6 miles/9.6 km which has previously been shown to include about 80% of the subsequent flashes in a thunderstorm (Lopez and Holle 1999; Murphy and Holle2005). This distance is a conservative but not absolutely safe distance, particularly considering the time required to evacuate a large football stadium when storms are approaching. The second 30 in the 30-30 rule refers to the time that people should wait before resuming outdoor activity after the last lightning is seen or thunder is heard, and the 30-minute count is re-started if any subsequent discharge occurs in the area (Murphy and Holle 2005). I will attach this guideline to this discussion (see below). The graphic to the right is from
which also shows how to do the lightning crouch. However, this is NOT easy to do. I have carried it out with over 240 students from my school and they REMEMBER how to do it! Again I think that this is useful to practice and drill for. But my over-riding concern is that many teachers in charge of students or in loco parentis
do not know what to do and that there assumed or previously taught knowledge is out of date. I will follow this up with the Institute of Education in London where I undertook my post-graduate teaching training to see if something can be done about this.
In the meantime I would appreciate it if anyone knows what advice is given elsewhere or whether school districts have any policy or guidelines on this. If so, upload them onto this discussion. Thanks!