India has witnessed a record number of lightning deaths in 2022, with 907 people killed between January and November. This is the highest death toll due to lightning in the last 14 years. The India Meteorological Department has issued an advisory to safeguard against lightning and thunderstorms, including staying indoors, removing debris that could cause harm, and unplugging electrical appliances. The safest location during a thunderstorm is a large enclosed structure with plumbing and electrical wiring. If no buildings are available, an enclosed metal vehicle can be a decent alternative. Avoid running water, doors, windows, fireplaces, stoves, bathtubs, and corded phones during a lightning strike.
In line with a report by the Ministry of Earth Science, lightning strikes claimed the lives of 907 people in India between January and November 2022. This is the highest death toll due to lightning in the last 14 years, and the strikes have continued since then. With the monsoon season approaching, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself from lightning and thunderstorms.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued an advisory to help people safeguard themselves from these natural disasters. Here are some of the measures they suggest, along with tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
To begin with, keep an eye out for darkening skies and increased wind. If you feel your hair standing up on the back of your neck, it could indicate that lightning is imminent. Follow weather forecasts and local media for updates and warnings. Once the arrival of a thunderstorm seems imminent, get indoors and stay home to avoid travel.
Close windows and doors, and unplug any electrical appliances that are not in use. This will disconnect them from the main power supply, which could conduct a power spike during a lightning storm. Remove any tree timber or other debris that could cause a flying mishap, and secure any objects outside your home, such as furniture and bins.
The safest location during a thunderstorm is usually a large enclosed structure that has both plumbing and electrical wiring. Apart from your private residence, these could also be shopping malls, office buildings, schools, etc. When lightning strikes the building, the plumbing and wiring can conduct the electricity more efficiently than a human body. However, if you can’t spot any buildings nearby, then an enclosed metal vehicle such as an automobile, van, or school bus could make for a decent alternative.
In case of lightning strikes, stay away from running water because lightning can travel along metal pipes. Keep away from doors, windows, fireplaces, stoves, bathtubs, or any other electrical conductors, and avoid using corded phones and other electrical equipment that can conduct electricity. If you’re outside during a thunderstorm, avoid open fields, hilltops, and high places, as they are more likely to attract lightning strikes.
If you’re in a group during a thunderstorm, spread out to reduce the risk of multiple injuries from a single strike. If someone is struck by lightning, call for emergency medical services immediately. Begin CPR if the person is not breathing and has no pulse, and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if available.
As the closing remark, lightning and thunderstorms can be deadly, and it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones. Follow the tips mentioned above from the IMD and NOAA, and stay safe during the monsoon season. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.