Gov. John Hickenlooper officially declared June 18 to 24 as Colorado Lightning Safety Awareness Week to encourage residents to learn about thunderbolts.
Topics covered throughout the week included the science of lightning, outdoor-lightning risk reduction, indoor lightning safety, medical issues for survivors of lightning strikes and lightning and wildfires. Here are the highlights:
Lightning generally receives less attention because only one or two victims are involved per incident and it leaves little destruction compared with disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes.Cloud-to-ground lightning can be negatively charged or positively charged. Negative strikes are far more common and both negative and positive strikes can be deadly, though positive strikes are generally more destructive, deliver more overall electrical charge and remain in contact with the ground longer.Each year, cloud-to-ground lightning flashes are estimated at 25 million and kill an average of 30 people in the U.S., based on 10 years of data. More than a half-million lighting strikes a year strike ground in Colorado. Thirty-eight fatalities nationwide, two in Colorado, were recorded in 2016 –all of them outdoors. Most lightning deaths and injuries in Colorado occur in the afternoon.The most effective way to avoid being struck by lightning is to find a substantial shelter during for at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.To avoid being struck while inside, avoid corded electronics and electrical equipment, avoid contact with plumbing, and avoid windows, doors, garages and porches. Seek refuge in an enclosed car or truck if no substantial buildings are nearby.Immediate medical attention after being struck by lightning is critical for a successful recovery. Victims may face memory and attention problems, increased fatigue, sleeping problems, chronic headaches and painful nerve damage.About half the 2,500 wildfires in Colorado each year, are caused by lightning. Fire danger increases after mid-June, peaks in early July, and remains high until early September. For more information, visit www.weather.gov/pub/lightning.