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Jun 24, 2013 10:03 AM by Stephen Bowers

This week: Colo. Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Governor Hickenlooper has declared the week of June 23 Colorado Lightning Safety Awareness Week. 

Did you know only Florida has more lightning than Colorado in the United States?

The National Weather Service says an estimated 25-million cloud-to-ground lightning bolts every year in the U.S. An average of 52 people are killed each year. Last year saw 28 deaths across the nation, though Colorado did not record any lightning-related deaths in 2012.

About 80% of those killed are male. About 20% of those killed were beneath a tree. About 20% of those killed were on or near water.

In the last ten years, El Paso County alone has recorded 10 fatalities and 64 injuries due to lightning, leading the state in lightning incidents.

The National Weather Service says Lightning can strike more than 10 miles from the rain area of a thunderstorm. That distance is about as far as you can hear thunder. The rule is if you can hear thunder, you could be in danger of being struck by lightning.

So what should you do if lightning is around? The most important thing is to stay indoors and away from windows. Also while indoors, be sure to unplug electronics as they can be damaged or destroyed by electrical surges caused by lightning. Hard-top vehicles are also safe, but any vehicle with a soft or convertible roof is very dangerous around lightning.

If you are around someone who is struck, you should call 911 for medical help immediately.

Lightning is also the leading natural cause of wildfires. It sparks nearly half of the wildfires that occur in the United States.

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