Lightning Death At All-Time Low In 2017

by | Jan 3, 2018 | United States News

East Elementary Archery 2017 State Champions
Lightning Death At All-Time Low In 2017

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Lightning killed 16 people in 2017. This number is the fewest deaths since accurate records began to be collected in 1940.

The National Weather Service the previous low for lightning fatalities was 23 in 2013,

According to NWS meteorologist John S. Jensenius, Jr., lightning killed fewer Americans last year than any year on record. This trend marks a clear downward driven by more public awareness, better lightning-proofed construction, and fewer people working in farms, fields and outdoors.

In the 1940s, hundreds of people were killed each year by lightning. In 1943 alone, 432 people died.

In 2001, the weather service launched a lightning safety campaign, which included the now well-known phrase “when thunder roars, go indoors.” At that time, the nation recorded about 55 lightning deaths a year.

Jensenius authored a March 2017 report entitled, ‘A Detailed Analysis of Lightning Deaths in the United States
from 2006 through 2016‘.

The summary is fascinating:

From 2006 through 2016, 352 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States. Almost two-thirds of the deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities. The common belief that golfers are responsible for the highest number of lightning deaths was shown to be a myth.

During this 11-year period, fishermen accounted for more than three times as many fatalities as golfers, while beach activities and camping each accounted for at least twice as many deaths as golf. From 2006 to 2016, there were a total of 33 fishing deaths, 20 beach deaths, 18 camping deaths, and 16 boating deaths. Of the sports activities, soccer saw the most considerable number of fatalities with 12, as compared to golf with 9.

Around the home, yard work (including mowing the lawn) accounted for 14 fatalities. For work-related activities, ranching/farming topped the list with 17 deaths.

Males accounted for 79% of all fatalities, and more than 90% of the deaths in the fishing and sports categories. Females had comparatively fewer deaths than men in every group, with their highest percentages in the boating-related activities (37.5%) and routine daily/weekly activities (35%).

June, July, and August are the peak months for lightning activity across the United States and the peak months for outdoor summer activities. As a result, more than 70% of the lightning deaths occurred in June, July, and August, with Saturdays and Sundays having slightly more deaths than other days of the week.

Ages of the victims varied from young children to older adults with the highest number of fatalities between the ages of 10 and 60. Within that age range, there was a relative minimum of deaths for people in their 30s, possibly due to parents of young children being less involved in vulnerable activities.

Based on the media reports of the fatal incidents, many victims were either headed to safety at the time of the deadly strike or were just steps away from safety. Continued efforts are needed to convince people to get inside a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant. For many activities, situational awareness and proper planning are essential to safety.

Lightning Death At All-Time Low In 2017

image by Jeremiah LaRocco

Staff Writers

The staff writers at Cullman Today are a collaborative group of citizen reporters sharing the writing of stories based upon their personal interests and work schedules.

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