Use caution before and during thunderstorms—year-round

RICHMOND—While summer is the peak season for lightning, it can strike year-round.

Lightning, which is one of the top three storm-related killers, strikes the ground more than 25 million times a year in the United States and results in millions of dollars’ worth of property damage, according to the National Weather Service.

About 54 deaths and hundreds of injuries are reported each year. Lightning-related injuries can include memory loss, sleep disorders, chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Lightning can travel sideways and strike as far as 10 miles away, said Jimmy Maass, safety manager for Virginia Farm Bureau.

“Seek shelter as soon as you hear thunder,” Maass said. “If you’re outdoors and cannot get inside, stay away from trees, avoid metal objects and find the lowest point possible. Crouch down low, and make yourself small.” A substantial building nearby or a metal-topped vehicle with the windows up can serve as a temporary shelter.

If you are in or near water, get out of the water and stay off beaches. Stay away from showers, sinks and electronic equipment plugged into a building’s utilities. If lightning strikes a building, the current typically will travel through wiring or plumbing and then into the ground.

“If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately, and provide first aid attention as needed,” Maass said. “People who have been struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and are safe to touch.”

For more information, visit

Contact Maass at 804-290-1379.

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