Lightning is one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States with an average of 47 deaths per year over the last 30 years. In 2016, there were 38 lightning fatalities in the United States (none in Iowa). However, in 2015 there were two fatalities in the state.
No place outside is safe near a thunderstorm. When outside, keep an eye on the sky. Most people are struck by lightning before or just after a storm because they wait too long to seek shelter or go back outside too soon. If you hear thunder, go indoors! Seek shelter in a building or hard-topped vehicle. Do not go outside until 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder. This will insure the thunderstorm is far enough away and that it’s safe to resume outdoor activities.
All lightning deaths result from cardiac arrest. If you’re with a victim, call 9-1-1 to get professional medical help then apply CPR if possible. A common myth is that lightning victims are electrified and dangerous to approach. This is false! About 90% of lightning victims survive, so your first aid may save a life.
For additional safety and forecast information visit:
The National Weather Service is working with its partners to build a Weather-Ready Nation to support community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather. Visit the Des Moines NWS office website, follow us on Twitter (@NWSDesMoines) and on Facebook.
The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management leads, coordinates and supports homeland security and emergency management functions in order to establish sustainable communities and ensure economic opportunities for Iowa and its citizens. Follow us on Twitter (@IowaHSEMD) and on Facebook.