As summer storms have made their way across the province all week, the timing of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Lightning Safety Awareness Week couldn’t have been more timely.
Terri Lang is a meteorologist with Environment Canada. She said while much of the attention was on the tornado warnings that popped up throughout the week, people should be keeping a closer eye, and ear, on the lightning activity.
“One of the main things is that lightning kills and injures more Canadians than tornadoes do,” Lang stated. “The focus should sort of be less on tornadoes, even though they are scary, and sort of more awareness that lightning itself is very dangerous.”
Lang added that studies have shown that 1/3 of all people who are injured or killed by lightning are struck before the storm hits, and another 1/3 are injured or killed after the storm has finished.
“What that indicates to us is that people aren’t seeking shelter soon enough, and are leaving shelter too soon.” She reiterated the phrase, when thunder roars, go indoors, noting that lightning can travel upwards of 20 kilometres from the storm itself. As well, once you seek shelter, you should remain in it for 30 minutes after the last peal of thunder is heard.
Lang reminded everyone to not seek shelter from the lightning under a tree. If you are unable to get indoors, you can find shelter from lightning in a car. If you are unable to make it to shelter, she recommended making yourself as small as possible and getting as low as possible.
Every year across Canada, lightning kills two to three people, and injures 180.