Another school year is coming to a close, graduation ceremonies are under way across Orange County, and families are making vacation plans. It’s that time of year – June 21st marked the official start of summer and the longest daylight hours of the year. This time of year also comes with its share of unsettled or extreme weather – frequently in the form of high temperatures or thunderstorms. Recently, we’ve had an abundance of rain and thunderstorms roll through our County.
Summer is peak season for thunderstorms and with them comes one of the deadliest weather phenomena – lightning. According to the National Weather Service, an average of 54 people are killed by lightning each year and hundreds are permanently injured. To help people understand the serious nature of thunderstorms, the National Weather Service offers a very clear and simple message, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors – Stop All Activities."
Orange County Commissioner of Emergency Services Walter Koury and I urge all Orange County residents to take heed of changing weather conditions, especially when spending time outdoors. Commissioner Koury cautions that if you can hear the thunder you are most likely within striking distance of lightning and should take precautions. For lightning safety, he offers the following advice:
• Don’t get yourself caught in a storm. Monitor weather conditions and have a storm plan in the event of extreme weather. Waiting for the rain to start before planning your exit may be too late. This is especially important if it may end up taking you an extended period of time in order to get yourself to a safe location, such as if you’re out boating, golfing, or hiking.
• If you’re at home, secure outdoor furniture, toys, and planters to prevent objects from taking flight.
• Get you and your loved ones to a safe place before the weather worsens. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options in these situations. Rain shelters, picnic pavilions, small sheds, and open vehicles are not safe.
• Once inside, stay away from showers, sinks, bathtubs, and electronic equipment.
• If you are caught outside, avoid water, high ground, and open spaces. Avoid proximity to other people as best you can.
• If you drive into a thunderstorm, slow down and use extra caution. Pull off the road into a safe area, if such a move is at all possible.
Do not leave the vehicle during a thunderstorm.
• If someone is struck by lightning, they do not carry an electrical charge and are okay to touch. A lightning victim will require medical attention - call 911 immediately, and then start CPR or use an automated external defibrillator if needed.
• Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike before resuming outdoor activities.
Most importantly, if thunder and lightning is expected, cancel or postpone your outdoor plans until the weather clears.
No golf outing, baseball game, day of fishing, or other outdoor activity is worth the risk when the situation is so potentially dangerous.
Until next week, I wish you all good health and happiness.