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U.S. Sees Record Low Number of Lightning Deaths in 2021 – Lightning Safety Awareness Effort Reaches Milestone

CUMBERLAND, Maine -- According to the National Lightning Safety Council, the lightning death toll of 11 in 2021 set a new record for the fewest documented U.S. lightning deaths in a year. The previous low recorded by NOAA was 16 deaths in 2017.

"This new low of 11 lightning deaths is dramatically fewer than the 432 Americans killed by lightning in 1943," said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC).

During 2021, leisure activities contributed to eight of the 11 lightning fatalities with work-related activities causing the remaining three. Five of the fatalities were on beaches with three on golf courses. Listings of lightning fatalities since 2006 can be found on the National Lightning Safety Council website (http://lightningsafetycouncil.org/LSC-LightningFatalities.html).

"With more than 194 million lightning events detected across the United States and 2.4 billion detected around the world in 2021, lightning safety should be a consideration during any outdoor activity," said Chris Vagasky, a lightning data specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council.

Jensenius attributes the recent drop in lightning fatalities to increased awareness efforts, including lightning safety campaigns, and the growing accessibility of weather information.

"When the Lightning Safety Awareness Campaign began in 2001, the U.S. averaged 47 lightning fatalities a year," Jensenius explained. "The average number of deaths for the past five years has now dropped to 17. It's very rewarding to know that the campaign has been so successful."

The record low in lightning deaths is an important milestone in the lightning safety awareness effort in light of a significant increase in U.S. and global lightning activity, as documented by Vaisala in its 2021 Annual Lightning Report. Amidst a constantly changing lightning landscape, the NLSC emphasizes the importance of continued vigilance against the capricious weather threat.

"Continued efforts to increase lightning safety awareness will help keep people safe in the United States and globally," said Vagasky.

The National Lightning Safety Council invites educators, government officials and others to help build lightning safe communities by learning more about lightning safety, lightning protection and risk reduction.

Visit the http://www.lightningsafetycouncil.org/ for shareable information, resources and safety tips.

Inquiries about specific lightning concerns can also be addressed to Council members via contacts here: http://www.lightningsafetycouncil.com/LSC-About.html.

RELATED LINKS:

http://lightningsafetycouncil.org/LSC-LightningFatalities.html

https://www.vaisala.com/en/annual-lightning-report

Related link: http://lightningsafetycouncil.org/

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Lightning, Tragedy and Lessons Learned about Safety and Awareness: A Look Back at One of Lightning’s Deadliest Strikes

CUMBERLAND, Maine -- This Sunday marks the 70th anniversary of one of the deadliest lightning strikes in the U.S. and the National Lightning Safety Council is recalling the tragic event to spotlight the dangers of lightning, a common, yet underrated weather peril.

Lives were shattered in an instant on August 1, 1951 when lightning struck a tree at Wind Cave, Wyoming, killing four girl hikers and their leader and injuring nine others. The hikers were on a trek from a girls' camp in Darby Canyon to Wind Cave, Ice Cave, and back.

"Fortunately, most people are more aware of lightning's dangers now than they were in 1951," said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC).

According to Jensenius, the Center for Disease Control logged 248 U.S. lightning deaths in 1951, which is one more than the combined total of 247 deaths the NLSC has documented for the past 10 years.

Karma Lambert, one of the most seriously injured survivors, vividly remembers events up until the time when lightning struck the tall tree that she and several others were sitting under. Lambert, now 84, attributes her survival to the quick actions of hiking guide, Fred Miller, and several older girls who repeatedly administered "artificial respiration."

Lambert's detailed account of the incident and her 2015 return to the site is featured on her daughter's website: https://watercolor365.com/my-mother-a-lightning-survivor-honors-victims/.

Now, 70 years after the event, Kelly Loosli, a professor of Animation and Film at Brigham Young University is interviewing survivors of the Wind Cave lightning incident for a documentary he's preparing. Loosli is the grandson of the then Teton County Sheriff Dwight Loosli, who organized men and horses to rescue the injured and transport the dead in the ensuing hours after the lightning strike.

"My interest stems from my grandfather's involvement in the rescue and the heroism of all those involved," said Loosli. "This was a terrible tragedy and I don't want to see anything like this ever happen again."

Lambert has advice for anyone headed out on a hike, "Check the forecast and if thunderstorms are predicted, just don't go."

Jensenius wants people to know what happened that tragic day in 1951 to stress the importance of monitoring weather conditions to limit the lightning threat.

"Consider canceling or postponing activities if thunderstorms are predicted and remember, when thunder roars, go indoors," advises Jensenius. "Lightning safety is a minor inconvenience that just might save your life."

The National Lightning Safety Council invites educators, government officials and others to help build lightning safe communities by learning more about lightning safety, lightning protection and risk reduction.

Visit the http://www.lightningsafetycouncil.org/ for shareable information, resources and safety tips. Inquiries about specific lightning concerns can also be addressed to Council members via contacts here: http://www.lightningsafetycouncil.com/LSC-About.html

MEDIA CONTACT:

Kimberly Loehr - Kimberly Loehr Consulting, kim@loehrlightning.com

RELATED LINKS:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsus/VSUS_1951_2.pdf

https://designdept.byu.edu/directory/kelly-loosli

#lightning #lightningsafety #lightningsafecommunities @lightningkim

Related link: http://lightningsafetycouncil.org/

This news story was published by the Neotrope® News Network - all rights reserved.