Take charge of your life and safety when lightning strikes

The following web story is a direct transcription from the National Weather Service regarding lightning awareness week. This is the first of a five part series on lightning safety which will run each day during New York's lightning safety awareness week. Todayâ??s topic will focus on the introduction to lightning and lightning safety.

In the United States each year, about 25 million cloud to ground lightning strikes occur. Each one of these 25 million flashes is a potential killer. During the last 30 years, lightning has killed an average of 54 people per year in the United States. Because lightning only claims one or two victims at a time and does not leave massive destruction behind, it usually receives much less attention than the more destructive storm related killers. Lightning also injures 300 people per year, although undocumented injuries are likely higher. Here is a video about the impacts of lightning on people.

A lack of understanding regarding the danger of lightning is a big problem in the United States. Many people do not act to protect themselves in a timely fashion due to a lack of knowledge. This can lead to very tragic consequences.

Education and awareness are key to reducing the number of people struck by lightning. This includes informing the public on what behavior puts them at risk and knowing what to do to reduce that risk. Those involved in outdoor activities, especially those in charge, should have and follow a specific lightning safety plan to minimize dangers to participants and spectators.

The greatest number of lightning deaths and injuries occur during summer months, when lightning and outdoor events reach their peaks. During the summer, people venture outside more often and put themselves at greater risk of being struck.

While nearly all people take some protective action during the most dangerous part of storms, many leave themselves vulnerable as storms approach, are nearby, or depart. Lightning can strike up to 25 miles from the parent thunderstorm. If you hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning.

Seek shelter immediately if you hear thunder. The threat of lightning continues for much longer than most people realize. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter. Do not be fooled by sunshine or blue sky.

Inside homes, people must avoid activities that put them at risk of a possible lightning strike. Stay away from doors and windows and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity. Well before the storm threatens, unplug electrical equipment to protect property within the home.

In the event a person is struck by lightning, immediate medical care may be necessary to save the victimâ??s life. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge. Cardiac arrest and irregularity, burns and nerve damage are common in people who have been struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment including CPR, most victims survive. Unfortunately, the long term affects on their lives can be devastating.

The topics for the remainder of the week are:

Tuesday: The science of lightning.

Wednesday: Lightning safety outdoors.

Thursday: Lightning safety indoors.

Friday: The medical aspects of lightning.

Become my facebook friend here by â??likingâ?? my fan page, and "follow" me on Twitter here (@PeteWeatherBeat). For more on your weather forecast, click on â??Weatherâ?? and then the â??Live Triple Doppler Radarâ?? tab on our weather page. Make sure you refresh the Doppler radar to see the very latest information, as well. Furthermore, we have our new Interactive Doppler Radar on our website. You can zoom down to street level with Interactive Doppler Radar. You are in total control of where the radar can zoom in. Give it a try. In addition, you may tune to NBC Weather Plus on Time Warner Cable digital channel 133 or over the air 3.3 to get the very latest weather updates locally and nationally.