Weather Wednesday: Protect yourself from lightning at the beach

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Editor’s note: The Salisbury Post and Steve Monday of Rowan County Weather are beginning a weekly series that will focus on weather-related hazards and safety tips.

I look forward to being able to provide information that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones from any weather-related emergency that could occur. This week, we will focus on lightning safety at the beach.

A trip to the beach should be fun. Unfortunately, far too many people are injured or killed on our nation’s beaches by hazards such as lightning.

Lightning is a real beach hazard. The second-greatest cause of lightning fatalities is beach activities.

Fishing is the leading cause of lightning fatalities. Fishermen typically fish from piers, large rocks, sandy beaches, and boats.  This puts them in danger of being struck by lightning if a storm approaches.

General beach activities such as sunbathing, playing ball, etc., are the second-highest cause of lightning fatalities. Camping is the third-highest cause.

There are many reasons why beach activities contribute to so many fatalities.

•The sound of thunder is hidden by the sounds of the surf and people having fun.

• Safety, typically a car or building, may be some distance away.

• Along the East Coast, people are generally facing the ocean in the east but many storms come from the west.

Enjoy your time at the beach, but keep these recommendations in mind to protect yourself and family from sudden storms while:

• Keep a watchful eye on the sky in all directions and head to a safe place immediately at any sign of an approaching or developing storm.

• Monitor the forecast and radar on a phone or other electronic media.  Get to a safe place, such as a vehicle or large, fully enclosed building (not a picnic shelter or other open-sided structure) at the first sign of a storm.

• When camping on the beach, have a hard-topped metal vehicle nearby and head into it at the first sign of a thunderstorm.

• Lay down your fishing rods; they could act like an antenna and draw a lightning strike right to you.

When you are on vacation at the beach this summer, please follow these safety tips to ensure you keep yourself and your loved ones safe in severe weather.