Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
Surpassed only by Florida, Texas ranks #2 in the number of lightning-related deaths in the United States. While suffering injury or fatality from lightning strike is exceptionally rare, it does happen. Athletes reading this blog, who may frequently be outside in open areas for practice and competition, should be prepared to act swiftly when there’s potential for lightning.
Minimize Your Risk for Being Struck
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these precautions:
- Remain calm.
- Listen for instructions from authorities.
- Move to the designated safe shelters, away from metal poles and the open field. These shelters should be determined before the event if a chance of a storm exists.
- Wait for an all-clear signal, which should occur approximately 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
Fast Facts About Lightning
- Lightning can strike even when it’s not raining.
- If you can hear thunder, then there is potential for lightning to strike in your area.
- Lightning often strikes on the fringe areas of a heavy rain. Strikes are common before and after rain. They can occur up to 10 miles away from rainfall.
- Athletes struck by lightning are often on their way to seeking safety at the time of the strike. Act quickly! Don’t delay in seeking shelter if there might be a risk.
What YOU Should Do As an Athlete, Parent or Coach
- Check local weather forecasts before practice or play. Be prepared to delay play in the event of a weather “watch” or “warning” in your area.
- Pay attention to signs of weather changing.
- Be familiar with any league or organizational policies with regards to thunderstorms.
- Avoid high points and open areas.
- Seek indoor shelter. No outdoor or open shelters are truly safe. If an indoor shelter is not available, get inside a car. Don’t touch the stereo, electronics or doorhandles.
- If your skin is tingling and no shelter is available, crouch in the safety position: weight on the balls of the feet, head down, elbows tucked, hands covering the ears.
- If someone is struck, call 911 immediately. A person struck by lightning does not carry an electrical charge. The victim is safe to touch.
Schedule With Dr. Rosemary Buckle
For other Houston sports medicine needs, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rosemary Buckle at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.