Lightning bolts flash to the ground twenty-five million times a year in the United States killing nearly one hundred people, and seriously injuring up to one thousand more. To protect yourself during summer thunderstorms, follow these safety guidelines:
"Plan ahead and be flexible," says runner and meteorologist John Jensenius of the National Weather Service. "Just because you have a schedule, you do not have to stick to it".
Run in the morning, when thunderstorms are rare. Especially good advice for your long runs.
"If you can see it or hear it, flee it" say many lightning safety experts, so head for cover immediately. A storm may seem far away, but lightning can strike up to ten miles away from the storm center.
Seek shelter in a house or substantial building. A car is okay, but be sure to roll up the windows, and do not touch any metal surfaces.
If you get caught by surprise, and begin to feel your hair standing on end, act fast. Move away from tall trees and poles. In a forested area, crouch under a group of the shortest trees you can find.
If you get caught in the middle of a field, crouch on the balls of your feet, cover your ears with your hands, and tuck your whole body into the shortest, smallest mass you can. If there is a dry ravine or gully nearby, crouch in it. Avoid wet places. Do not lie down on the field.
If you are a part of a group in an open area, assume crouching positions at least fifteen feet away from each other.
Do not hesitate to help others. A person struck by lightning does not carry electric charge. CPR has proved effective when used promptly. Call for help as soon as possible.
Run The Planet thanks Runner's World Magazine for the permission to reprint the article "Don't Get Zapped" by Amby Burfoot. Reprinted with the permission of Rodale/Runner's World. Illustration copyright © 2002 by Run The Planet.