Page 51 - Athletic Health Handbook
P. 51
TEAM PHYSICIAN’S CORNER

LIGHTNING SAFETY DURING
ATHLETIC EVENTS

WAYNE J. SEBASTINAELLI, MD THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE estimates that
Penn State Orthopaedics
State College, Pennsylvania 25 million lightning flashes occur each year, causing nearly 100 deaths and
400 injuries. Lightning is the number two weather killer in the United
States over a 30-year period, killing more people than hurricanes and
tornadoes combined. Only floods kill more people. Nearly 80 percent of
lightning strikes occur between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., coinciding with the
key hours of athletic events. With this in mind, preparing for lightning
strike risks in advance of, and during athletic events can save lives.

Minimizing Outdoor Lightning Strike Injury Risk

A lightning safety program should be implemented at every facility with
a clear chain of command and a designated person to monitor weather
conditions. Local weather conditions should be observed 24 hours prior
to athletic events and with a radio during events.

When visibility is good, lightning can be seen at a great distance.
Utilizing the “30/30 Rule” is a good way to determine how far and how

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