Deadly lightning season continues; prepare now to stay safe
A pregnant woman and her unborn child are the latest fatalities in what is proving to be a deadly lightning season, the National Weather Service reports. Mary H. Yoder, 36, who was nine months pregnant, the 11th person killed by lightning in July in the United States. She was struck by lightning in Garrett, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.
July typically is the deadliest month for lightning strikes, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist John Jensenius told reporters. This year is no exception, and the number of people killed has already surpassed the monthly average of 16 deaths. The yearly average for lightning-related fatalities is 54.
When it comes to lightning risks, Central Florida leads the nation in lightning strikes and meteorologists have dubbed an area stretching from Tampa to Titusville as “Lightning Alley”. The National Severe Storms Laboratory a division of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reports that the highest frequency of cloud-to-ground lightning in the U.S. happens between Tampa and Orlando. This is because, on many days of the year, abundant moisture content in the atmosphere combines with high surface temperatures to produce strong sea breezes—and violent summer storms.
Across the U.S., lightning strikes the ground 30 million times each year and injures about a thousand people, according to the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI).
“There is no safe place outdoors when thunderstorms boom overhead,” said Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute. “The safest strategy is to move indoors whenever you hear thunder because that sound is saying that you are within striking distance.”
Lightning is not only deadly; it can be destructive to property. An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the Insurance Information Institute found there were more than 213,000 lightning claims in 2010, up nearly 15 percent from 2009. These losses ranged from damage to expensive electronic equipment to structural fires that destroyed entire homes.
Find resources to protect your property from lightning damage with help from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS):
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Protect your family with help from LPI
© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety