Heightened storm awareness following deadly lightning strikes
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The chances of being struck by lightning are one in a million, but that doesn’t mean you should take thunderstorms lightly.
Three people have been confirmed dead after being struck by lightning just blocks away from the White House Thursday. Another person is in critical condition.
“It’s definitely unusual by the sheer number of people that were struck. Usually, when we find out there’s a lightning fatality, it’s just one person who was struck, but this time it was worse,” Nick Russo, NBC12 Weather Specialist, said.
A similar tragedy was seen just two days before in Wyoming, where two students were struck by lightning during an outdoor class. John Murphy, 22, died of cardiac arrest because of a lightning strike, and the other student is recovering.
These types of deaths happen more often this time of year.
“People spend more time outdoors doing activities like hiking and things that put them far away from shelter during the summer months,” Russo said.
Most lightning fatalities happen during activities like fishing, being at the beach, camping and even biking during a storm. But when you hear thunder, it’s time to go inside, even if you don’t see lightning bolts.
“A lot of people want to take shelter from the rain, and being under a tree will help you be a little bit dryer, but it provides no protection from the lightning. In fact, it can make it more dangerous because a tree tends to be the tallest object around,” Russo said.
Russo says the safest place is inside a building or in a car. Lightning strikes in seconds, so don’t hesitate to find shelter.
“What researchers have found is that many people who have been struck by lightning were headed towards safe shelter when they were struck. In some cases, they were only feet away from getting to their car,” Russo said.
Russo says it’s also important to unplug some devices in your home, like your TV or phone, just in case lightning travels through the wires.
You can stay ahead of any storm by downloading our NBC12 Weather app.
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