What You Need to Know About Lightning Safety

A photo of night lightning highlights the need for lightning safety.

This week marks Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Though disasters like hurricanes tend to get more attention during the summer months, it’s important to know how to stay safe from lightning. That’s because lightning presents serious dangers to both people and property.

Lightning safety and people

Lightning can occur during any time of the year, but lightning casualties are highest during summer. July is generally the month with the most lightning. Lightning strikes often occur in the afternoon. Two-thirds of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6 p.m. Here are some more interesting facts:

  • Males are five times more likely than females to be struck by lightning; around 85 percent of lightning fatalities are men.
  • People aged 15 to 34 account for almost half of all lightning strike victims (41 percent).
  • About one-third (32 percent) of lightning injuries occur indoors.

Lightning safety and property

From 2007 to 2011, local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires. Fires in nonresidential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties, accounted for 7 percent. Vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 73 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.

Lightning fires in nonresidential properties caused an average of $108 million in direct damage each year from 2007 and 2011. The average annual damage in nonresidential properties includes:

  • $28 million in storage facilities
  • $22 million in places of assembly, such as houses of worship and restaurants
  • $19 million in non-home residential properties such as hotels and motels
  • $15 million in mercantile and business properties such as offices, specialty shops and department stores
  • $15 million in industrial and manufacturing facilities
  • $3 million in miscellaneous properties

What you need to know

Read on to learn:

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