Lightning may be the most frequently encountered severe-storm hazard endangering physically active people each year. Millions of lightning flashes strike the ground annually, causing nearly 100 deaths and 500 injuries. Three-quarters of all lightning strikes occur between May and September, and nearly four-fifths occur between 10am and 7pm, which coincides with the hours for most athletic or recreational activities.
This lightning safety policy for the Kennett Consolidated School District was created in accordance with the recommendations of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA), and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Activity Association (PIAA).
1. The official chain of command for who makes the call to remove individuals from the field will be the certified athletic trainer/athletic director, school administrators, coaches, and assistant coaches. Members of the chain of command will work in unison with game officials to make a formal decision. Once that decision has been made to suspend activity, all individuals should immediately seek refuge in a designated safe structure.
2. All persons in attendance to an event will be designated as “weather watchers”. They should watch and look for signs of threatening weather and notify a higher member of the chain of command if severe weather becomes dangerous.
3. Computers, weather radios, local radio stations, and lightning detectors will be used to monitor weather conditions, forecasts, and warnings.
4. Safe shelters are site specific. At the high school, the school building and the field house are designated as a safe shelter. At the football stadium, teams will be brought into the field-house or the high school and spectators will be moved into either the high school gymnasium if needed or advised to go to their automobiles. At Legacy fields, teams will be moved into the field-house and spectators will be advised to go to their automobiles. A team representative will be assigned to inform people when it is “all clear”. At NVF/KAU baseball field all individuals will be instructed to go to an automobile. A team representative will be assigned to inform people when it is “all clear”.
5. The “flash-to-bang” count method will be used to determine when to go to safety. When the count is thirty seconds, individuals should be inside a safe shelter.
6. Once activities have been suspended, thirty minutes without thunder or lightning activity must pass before activity is resumed. Remember that lightning can strike from up to ten miles away.
7. All individuals should avoid being the highest point on a field, in contact with, or in proximity to the highest point, or be in or on water. Do not take shelter under or near trees, flagpoles, or light poles.
8. Individuals who feel their hairs stand on end, skin tingle, or hear crackling noises should assume the lightning safe position. That position is crouched on the ground, weight on the balls of the feet, feet together, head lowered, and ears covered. Do not lie on the ground.
9. In the event of a lightning strike on an individual(s), basic first aid procedures will be used: a) survey the scene for safety b) activate EMS c) lightning victims are safe to touch and may be moved to a safer location d) evaluate airway, breathing, and circulation, and begin CPR if necessary e) evaluate and treat for hypothermia, shock, fractures, and/or burns.
10. All individuals have the right to leave an athletic site in order to seek a safe structure if the person feels in danger of impending lightning activity, without fear of repercussions, or penalty from anyone.
A safe location is any substantial, frequently inhabited building. The building should have four walls (not a dugout), electrical and telephone wiring, as well as plumbing, all of which aid in grounding a structure.
The secondary choice for a safer location from the lightning hazard is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and the window completely closed. It is important to not touch any part of the metal framework of the vehicle while inside it during the ongoing thunderstorm.It is not safe to shower, bathe, or talk on landline phones while inside of a safe shelter during thunderstorms. There is no evidence that cell phones are dangerous and may be used.
To use the flash-to-bang method, begin counting when sighting a lightning flash. Counting is stopped when the associated bang (thunder) is heard. Divide this number by five to determine the distance to the lightning flash (in miles). For example, a flash-to-bang count of thirty seconds is equal to a distance of six miles. “If you hear it, clear it; if you see it, flee it.
Postpone or suspend activity if a thunderstorm appears imminent before or during an activity or contest, (irrespective of whether lightning is seen or thunder heard) until the hazard has passed. Signs of imminent thunderstorm activity are darkening clouds, high winds, a sudden drop in temperature, and thunder or lightning activity.