Editorial — 08 August 2017

Published: August 2, 2017


I like lists. They keep me organized. I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night to scribble or type a quick catalogue of my thoughts before peacefully falling back into a deep slumber.

This week my Monday morning list looked something like this 1) unpack weekend beach bag into washing machine, 2) seek medical attention for injury sustained while having way to much fun at beach 3) call insurance company with routine house inquiry.

By noon I am proud to report I had succeeded in crossing the first two items off the list. The second? Made all that much harder, yet way more necessary, by Mother Nature.

The epic hailstorm experienced Monday morning is one many vehicle and homeowners or insurance agents won’t forget for quite some time. While only lasting about a half hour, evidence of the storm will remain on hoods, windshields, roofs and gardens for many weeks and years to come. I was lucky enough to get to shelter prior to the skies opening up and hope everyone else was able to as well.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory estimates that 16 million thunderstorms occur across the globe each year. The NSSL says that, at any given moment, there are 2,000 thunderstorms in progress.

Fireworks are not the only thing that light up the sky on warm evenings.

Despite advance warnings, people are killed or seriously injured by severe thunderstorms each year. Environment and Climate Change Canada says it is estimated that there are between nine to ten lightning-related deaths in Canada each year and up to 164 lightning-related injuries (analysis gathered through media reports, vital statistics, hospital admission and ER records and fire loss data).

In light of this week’s storm and the many others we will experience, I offer this list of tips on how to weather a storm:

  • Follow the 30/30 lightning safety rule. When lightning flashes, immediately go indoors if you cannot count to 30 before hearing a thunderclap. Remain indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last rumble of thunder.
  • Upon hearing thunder, get out of boats, pools and other bodies of water.
  • Unplug electronic equipment that may be susceptible to damage from power surges caused by lightning hitting power lines.
  • Be sure to have a flashlight and extra batteries handy in the event of a power outage.
  • Listen to the local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates.
  • Get to higher ground if flash flooding is possible.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing fixtures, as water conducts electricity.
  • Do not try to drive during severe thunderstorms. Afterward, do not drive through standing puddles. They may be too deep to gauge.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter if possible. If shelter is not available, find a low area away from metal areas or tall objects that can attract lightning. Curl into a ball and make yourself as small as possible.
  • After the storm, stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.

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Jennifer Parsons

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