BE AWARE: LIGHTNING KILLS
By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Kathryn Astle
Alabama is no stranger to severe weather, with more than 100 days’ worth of thunderstorms a year.
Storms can be dangerous because whenever you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
Diana Dollar, an emergency management specialist at Tuscaloosa Emergency Management, said lightning is a much bigger threat than most assume.
“Lightning strikes actually kill about 50 people a year in the United States and injures hundreds more,” she said.
In 2015, Alabama ranked fourth in the nation for lightning insurance claims, with more than 1,200, but that’s not the most frightening statistic. The state is within the top 10 of lightning deaths per year, Dollar said.
There are three types of lightning. Cloud to cloud lightening, cloud to sky lightening, and cloud to ground lightening. Although cloud to ground is the most dangerous, all can pose a threat.
“If you can’t get inside a sturdy building,” Dollar said. “You can make yourself a little safer by staying away from open fields where you’re the tallest object in the area, standing under trees or near metal objects or in bodies of water”
Tuscaloosa EMA recommends residents have a reliable weather app on your phone or a weather radio. And remember always treat thunderstorms seriously, and seek shelter.
“As the national weather service likes to say, when thunder roars- go indoors,” Dollar said.