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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Fishing Tops US List of Lighting Death Activities

 Most lightning deaths in the United States occur while people are enjoying outdoor activities, with fishing the most deadly, government weather officials say.



From 2006 to 2012, 238 people died after being struck by lightning in the country — 82 percent of them male. Of the total number of victims, 152 were taking part in leisure activities, according to new findings from the National Weather Service .

Fishing topped the list with 26 lightning deaths, followed by camping with 15 deaths, boating with 14, soccer with 12 and golf with eight, NWS officials said. Other lightning victims died while at the beach, swimming, walking, running or picnicking. [Electric Earth: Stunning Images of Lightning]

Activities like fishing and camping may be most hazardous during a storm because they often require extra time to take shelter in a safe place, explained John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the NWS.

"People often wait far too long to head to safety when a storm is approaching, and that puts them in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation," Jensenius said in a statement.

So far this year, seven people have been killed by lighting — three of them men who were fishing, according to NWS data.

The findings were announced as the NWS kicks off its National Lightning Safety Awareness Week just in time for summer — peak thunderstorm season.

Lightning deaths in the country have been on a decades-long decline, which experts often attribute to better education about lightning safety. Since 2001 — the year the NWS campaign launched — there have been 37 lightning deaths in the United States annually, down from an average of 73 in the years before the campaign began. (Compare that further to the 1940s, when lightning deaths averaged above 300.)

Jensenius said the NWS campaign has been especially effective in the golf community. "We believe our outreach has made a huge difference since lightning-related deaths on golf courses have decreased by 75 percent," he said in a statement.

The NWS says the best way to avoid injury or death by lightning is to monitor the weather and cancel or postpone outdoor activities when a thunderstorm is rolling in. Lightning can strike from 10 miles (16 kilometers) away and the best place to take shelter is a building with four walls and a roof, or a car — in other words, a hut, cabana or tent will not save you from a flash of lightning, the NWS says.
                         Lightning from a tornadic thunderstorm passing over Clearwater, Kansas strikes at an open field May 19, 2013. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
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    Lightning flashes around the ash plume at above the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain near Entrelagos June 5, 2011. The volcano in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle chain, dormant for decades, erupted in south-central Chile on Saturday, belching ash over 6 miles (10 km) into the sky, as winds fanned it toward neighboring Argentina, and prompted the government to evacuate several thousand residents, authorities said. Picture taken June 5. REUTERS/Carlos Gutierrez (CHILE - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE: ALSO SEE GM1E77L02MK01. - RTR2NDD9 less
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   Usher Brent Mole stands along a wall as lightning strikes across the sky during a storm delay for the MLB National League baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia June 15, 2011. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2NPLO
 
  Lightning strikes over a church tower during a thunderstorm in Zurich August 18, 2011. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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   Lightning is seen in the sky above the Christopher Columbus monument at Madrid's Colon Square July 26, 2012. REUTERS/Juan Medina

   Lightning strikes over a house during a thunderstorm in the northern Swiss town of Muellheim August 20, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

   A Muslim pilgrim gestures, as lightning strikes in the background, at the top of Mount Noor where Muslims believe Prophet Mohammad received the first words of the Koran through Gabriel, during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca October 21, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR39ESN

    Lightning strikes over a pier during a storm in Atlit, near the northern Israeli city of Haifa October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR39KT9

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      Lightning strikes across the skies of Twentynine Palms in California during monsoon August 8, 2005. Heavy rain continue to pound on the southern Californian desert for the third week. - RTXNO2I

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