Struckbylightning.org was started a couple of years after I was struck on a Cape Cod Golf Course. It was a hot and humid day in May and we were playing in a charity golf tournament at Pocasset Golf Course. They blew the alert horn and 15 seconds later I was laying, half on the green, shoes blown off, fingers and toes burnt and my hair burnt off. I spent 38 days in Brigham & Womens Hospitals ICU unit and another 3 months in Health/South rehab in Braintree.
When I got out everyone told me I would get worse over time. That scared me and I started looking for answers. What I found was a ton of myths, old wives tales, mis-information, bad science and very little info based on fact. I started off looking for information and ended being an advocate for lightning safety. It turned out the lightning safety was a very small thing, pretty much controlled by NOAA and a few private companies that did detection and such.
In 2001 or so, NOAA started a lightning safety group that contained the best people in the country on lightning and lightning safety. We had people form Kennedy Space Center, University of Ohio, Vaisala, (a private company in lightning detection), NOAA, and the National Weather Service. I was invited into the group and learned a lot over the years I was with them. It is because of this group that lightning safety evolved from what it was to something based on science and what worked. It was a hard job convincing groups that almost everything they knew about lightning safety was wrong. Which, by the way is still the problem.
The first big move towards a committed front was the 30-30 Rule. If you see lightning, you start counting, if you hear thunder within 30 seconds, the lightning is closer than 10 miles away and you should be in a safe place, and stay there for 30 minutes. BUT, it was changed a bit by the press and peoples interpretation and soon became go to a safe place, not the best, but a big step in lightning safety.
Evolution took over again, and as we learned, we realized that a lightning bolt can easily be more than 10 miles long, so it became a better idea to go inside and count. So the 30-30 Rule, which was widely pushed and grabbed on to by every group that needed a lightning safety program, was fast becoming outdated and even dangerous. If you go to almost any organizations safety web site from NOAA, FEMA, and many private groups, you will find it is still there.
The safety team was looking for a good solid slogan similar to stop, drop, and roll, and we got it from Bill Roeder. When thunder roars Go Indoors, was something he developed in his long tenure doing lightning safety. Being a public employee, he could not give permission to use the slogan to the safety team, so he gave the slogan to Struckbylighnting.org, and we gave the safety team permission to use it. We copyrighted the slogan in 2003, and gave permission to the team to use it.
Also about this time the lighting squat came into being. The idea being that lightning tends to strike the taller objects, so by getting shorter you lessen your odds of being struck. There is even a paper written by a NWS employee in Colorado, which goes into the math and statistics concerning getting shorter. Thus, the lightning squat was brought into existence. The problem is that there is no perfectly flat place on the earth that does not have something that is a tall isolated object that emits an upward streamer. The way it works is that any tall, isolated object on the earth can emit an upward streamer, a tree, telephone pole, a person, even a BLADE OF GRASS, is a tall isolated object that can issue an upward streamer. ( The lightning squat just plain does not work. ) Not only that, but well over 90% of people struck are hit by a ground strike or side flash.
So, we keep evolving and realize that the lightning squat, not only does not work it puts people in danger. Also as with the 30-30 Rule, people did not really understand the message and we saw pictures of kids doing the lightning squat within running distance of a large building, which is where they should have gone.
The problem is that THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE OUTSIDE IN A THUNDER STORM and the government and lots of organizations are trying to give you something to do.
If you have a safety question or have been struck and are looking for help, please give us a call and see if we can help. There is lots of info out there, most a bit outdated, some downright dangerous, and some good stuff. Look hard and ask questions !!
I was asked what to do if stuck on a sandbar in the ocean with a thunderstorm overhead. One guy said get into the water, the other guy said get in the boat. I probably would go on the sandbar and start to walk or run.
I would love to hear what you would do, let me know, call or email me.
THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE OUTSIDE IN A THUNDER STORM
thanks and stay safe: