Menu

Lightning Safety Policy

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Updated Sunday May 19, 2019 by Bill Gibbons, James Ivers.

Lightning Safety - When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

According to US Youth Soccer Statistics, about 400 children and adults are struck by lightning in us while working outside or participating in sporting events.  Here are some lightning facts:

  • Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Many deaths from lightning occur ahead of the storm because people try and wait to the last minute before seeking shelter.
  • You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough that it could strike your location at any moment.
  • Look for dark cloud bases and increasing wind. Every flash of lightning is dangerous, even the first. Head to safety before that first flash. If you hear thunder, head to safety!
  • Blue Skies and Lightning. Lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles. Even when the sky looks blue and clear, be cautious.
  • If you hear thunder, take cover. At least 10% of lightning occurs without visible clouds in the sky.

 

There are a few general safety rules/guidelines coaches, parents, and players should be aware of:

 

  • Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind, which may be signs of an approaching thunderstorm.
  • Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder, go to a safe shelter immediately.
  • If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming or your hair stands on end, immediately suspend your game or practice and instruct everyone to go inside a sturdy building or car. Sturdy buildings are the safest place to be. Avoid sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, and bleachers. If no sturdy building is nearby, a hard-top vehicle with windows closed will offer some protection. The steel frame of the vehicle provides some protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio. Coaches and other leaders should listen for a tone-alert feature during practice sessions and games.
  • Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
  • Get out of the water. It's a great conductor of electricity. Don’t stand in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots.
  • Avoid metal! Drop metal backpacks, stay away from clothes lines, fences, exposed sheds and electrically conductive elevated objects. Don't hold on to metal items. Small metal objects can cause burns.
  • Move away from a group of people. Stay several yards away from other people. Don't share a bleacher bench or huddle in a group.

 

What to do if someone is struck by lightning:
· Call for help. Call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service. Get medical attention as quickly as possible.

· Give first aid. If the victim has stopped breathing, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, address any other injuries.

· Check for burns in two places. The injured person has received an electric shock and may be burned. Being struck by lightning can also cause nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or eyesight. People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge that can shock other people. You can examine them without risk.

As coaches, parents, and players the most important thing to avoid lightning injuries is to stay informed about the storm.  Coaches there are ton of great weather applications these days that are fantastic and predicting the weather.  If there is strong chance that a thunder and lightning storm is going to hit during your practice, be cautious and look to move your practice indoor if that is an option or cancel.

Sometimes is a real-time decision.  Parents in these situations, don’t take off leaving the coaches with your children. They may not have enough space to put all the kids in cars in the event a storm hits.  Please stick around in these situations until the storm passes or the practice is canceled.

Finally, if your game or practice is interrupted due to thunder and lightning, you MUST wait 30 minutes after the last hit of thunder before returning to play.