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For Safe Summer Fun: Lightning Protection Tips

It’s summertime, and if you live in the San Juan Mountains, you’re surrounded by one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds in the world. The weather has cooled off a bit, making it the perfect temperature for mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and many more kinds of outdoor fun. However, the cooler summer weather also means more thunderstorms, which bring lightning. Getting hit by lightning is a very real danger, especially at our high altitude. Please get out and enjoy the mild temperatures and the glorious scenery, but while you do, stay safe by following these lightning protection tips:

If You’re Outside

The only true lightning protection is getting inside a safe building whenever lightning is likely. Enjoy the outdoors, but make plans to find shelter if a storm rolls in. Thunderstorms are common in the Colorado mountains during the summer, but they almost always happen during the mid to late afternoon. Plan your outdoor adventures for the morning. Check weather reports, and plan more carefully if storms are predicted. During a storm, follow the 30/30 rule: If you see lightning less than 30 seconds after you hear thunder, you should be indoors. If you’re not, get there as fast as you can. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap is heard. If you are caught outside and unable to find shelter, follow the tips in this post from The Hiking Dude to make yourself and your companions as safe as possible.

When You’re Indoors

The Weather Channel suggests these safety precautions:


  • Choose a safe shelter. Make sure the building you’re in is fully enclosed, and has some way of conducting electricity down to the ground if it’s hit by lightning. Metal rain gutters, electrical wiring, metal plumbing, and a continuous outer shell on a building can conduct and ground electricity. A fully enclosed (non-convertible), metal-roofed car is a safe shelter, too. Unsafe shelters include small structures like sheds, picnic pavilions, and other small, open park shelters. Avoid these. They can’t protect you, and they may attract lighting.
  • Stay away from electricity conductors. Remember that wiring and plumbing can carry the electricity from a lightning strike. Don’t be holding onto or even near one of those conductors when lightning is possible. Avoid using wired landline phones, sinks, showers, bathtubs, or anything plugged into the wall. Also avoid concrete walls or floors, as they are likely to be reinforced with metal.
  • Make sure your pets are indoors and in a safe place. Doghouses are not safe from lightning strikes, and posts, trees, and wire runners that dogs are often chained to can attract lightning. Concrete garage floors may be reinforced with conductive metal.

If Lightning Strikes

Here’s some amazing good news: Getting hit by lightning is not always (or even usually) fatal! According to the National Lightning Safety Institute (NLSI), 80% of people struck by lightning survive, and only 25% suffer major health problems afterwards. If you see someone get hit, know victims of lightning strikes do not conduct electricity, so they are safe to touch. If they appear to be dead, or are not breathing, there is a very good chance that CPR will revive them. Start CPR right away if you’re qualified. If you’re not, get medical help as quickly as possible. If the victim is burned, treat the burns as you would any burn. In any case, get the medical attention immediately, even if the victim looks and feels fine.

More on How Lightning Works

Lightning is dangerous, but it’s also fascinating. If you’d like to learn more about how lightning works, check out the National Weather Service’s explanations of the science behind lightning here and here.

The Staff at San Juan Realty, Inc.


271 San Juan Vista Road Hastings Mesa San Miguel County Colorado for sale

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