Sunday, September 5, 2010

Guide for Personal Safety from Lightning

Picture from National Geographic
I was doing some research on lightning protection system when I come across this appendix from National Fire Protection Association standard (NFPA 780) which furnish guide for personal safety from lighting.

This information is useful especially this rainy season when almost everyday we experience lightning activity.

According to NFPA 780, during lightning activity, avoid going outdoors unless it is necessary.  Seek shelter in structures such as the following:

a. Dwellings or buildings that are protected against lightning  (structures with well designed and installed lightning protection  system).
b. Underground shelters such as subways, tunnels and caves.
c. Large metal-frame buildings.
d. Large unprotected buildings.
e. Enclosed automobiles, buses and other vehicles with metal tops and bodies.
f.  Enclosed metal trains and street cars
g. Enclosed metal boats and ships
h. Boats that are protected against lightning
i.  City streets shielded by nearby buildings

The following structures/locations should be avoided:

a. Small unprotected buildings, barns, sheds and so forth
b. Tents and temporary shelters
c.  Automobiles (non-metal tops or open)
d.  Trailers (non-metal or open)
e.  Hilltops and ridges
f.  Areas on top of buildings
g.  Open fields, athletic fields, golf courses
h.  Parking lots and tennis courts
i.   Swimming pools, lakes and seashores
j.  Near wire fences, clothes lines, overhead lines and railroad tracks
k. Under isolated trees
l.  Near electrical appliances, telephones, plumbing fixtures and metal or electrically conductive objects.

There are instances when it is not possible to choose a location that offers good protection from lightning.  In this case, the following should be observed:

a. Seek depressed areas - avoid mountain tops, hilltops and other high places
b. Seek dense woods - avoid isolated trees
c. Seek buildings, tents and shelters in low area
d. If caught in an exposed area, crouch as low as possible, keeping feet together, putting hands on knees.  To minimize the risk of direct strike, it is necessary to keep as low as possible but do not lie flat.  Minimize the area of the body in contact with the ground.

Lightning activities are natural phenomenon and we have no control over it so it is better to take precautionary measures to avoid injuries or deaths.  It is better safe than sorry.

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