July most dangerous month for lightning strikes

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Lightning is an ever present danger here in the East especially this time of year.

“July is the most dangerous month of the year for lightning,” said Katie Flanagan, lightning expert and director of sports medicine at ECU.

Believe it or not, lightning deaths rank second only to flood deaths every year across the country. The U.S. averages about 50 lightning deaths a year and North Carolina can be a dangerous place, ranking in the Top 4 states in the country yearly for lightning deaths.

“I think they’re aware that thunder is coming and aware that they see the lightning and hear the thunder, and everyone thinks they have time,” said Flanagan. “If you hear thunder, you need to go, period.”

Even more important is finding the best place to go. One common misconception is that getting underneath an overhang or outdoor shelter is enough tostay safe from lightning. Flanagan is quick to point out though that simply isn’t true.

“People think if they’re not wet that they’re ok, that they’re in this bubble of safety,” explained Flanagan. “But lightning doesn’t hit that way. It tends to hit the ground and then radiates out. Nobody has died inside a building from lightning.”

Flanagan suggests going inside a building with 4 walls, then waiting to go back outside until 30 minutes after you last see lightning or hear thunder. Lightning can happen any time of the day or night but tends to be most concentrated during the late afternoon and evening.

Once inside, taking a shower is a no no during a lightning storm but baths are ok as long as the water isn’t running. Avoid using any electronics or appliances that are plugged into the wall. Battery powered devices are ok. Cell phones are ok to use as long as they are not plugged in to the wall to charge, but you should not use a landline phone during a storm.

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