Florence Fire offers lightning storm safety tips

Florence, SC - By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The Florence Fire Department says they have seen more property damage this year because of lightning storms. Now is the time of year when lightning storms occur more frequently.

Oriun Green and William Brown, who are currently living in the Thunderbird hotel in Florence, had their mobile home burn down after it was struck by lightning during Sunday's rain storm.

"I saw my life flash in front of me, just in an instant," Brown said.

Green added, "I thought I was going to die. I wasn't prepared at all."

Safety inspector Larry Gore says the best way to be prepared for a lightning storm is to have a plan.

"Plan ahead of time for your outside activities and during the summer especially, to have a location you can go to," he said.

Gore says a secure building is a safe place to go, especially one with a lightning rod.

Lightning travels through metal conductors, such as electrical wiring and telephone lines. It surges through electric outlets and appliances that are plugged into walls, which can cause explosions that can spark fires.

While indoors, stay away from electrical appliances that are plugged into the wall. Safety officials also advise staying away from windows and avoid taking showers. Lightning bolts can travel through pipes and water. Taking a shower increases the chance of getting struck by lightning

If outside, stay away from open spaces, such as parks, parking lots and golf courses. Avoid trees and tall objects such as telephone poles that can attract the lightning's current. The best place to be is in a car with a hard metal top. Make sure the windows are rolled up and do not touch and metal in the car.

Even after taking safety precautions, one can never be sure when and where lighting will strike.

"Lightning runs its course and you can't tell where it's going to go," said Gore.  "It's just how the storm runs."

Safety officials say it is only safe to head outside during a storm after 30 minutes has passed from the last time thunder is heard. If trapped indoors, the best way to call for help is to use a cordless phone or your cellular phone.

Gore says you can make your home is safe enough to weather a lightning storm by contacting your local fire department. Someone can inspect your home and help eliminate imminent dangers that may be present.

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