May 23, 2011: Lightning Safety

~ by Mary Galvano

With the summer approaching, more thunderstorms will be appearing. As an LPGA Golf Professional, one of the most important things I had to learn is what to do on a golf course when lightning is near. Most people that work on a golf course have to have this knowledge and we try to educate golfers for their own safety. Golf courses are lightning havens with lots of trees, open fields and fairways with sprinkler systems running through them. Golf carts are open and made of metal, making them just as dangerous. A lot of golf courses have lightning sirens that automatically go off once lightning is detected nearby to warn players to get off the golf course.But, even when the sirens are sounded some still ignore the signs. Ignoring this warning in competition can be a penalty of disqualification. There have been too many fatal occurrences on golf courses to take any chances. Whether on a golf course or anywhere outdoors please don’t be one of these people.

Lightning is a beautiful, awesome and extremely necessary wonder. Lightning helps plants to grow by creating ozone (O3), which breaks down to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which breaks down to water. On the flip side, lightning rapidly heats the air in its vicinity to about three times the temperature of the Sun’s surface. Although, I know a few people who have been struck by lightning and are fine, it usually can be fatal. Lightning is to be respected. In the United States, Florida experiences the largest number of recorded strikes in a given period during the summer season. Below are some Lightning Safety Rules provided by the National Lightning Safety Institute to help you have a safe and happy summer!

1. PLAN in advance your evacuation and safety measures. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. Lightning often precedes rain; so don’t wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.

2. IF OUTDOORS…Avoid water. Avoid the high ground. Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should:

A. Crouch down. Put feet together. Place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.

B. Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.

3. IF INDOORS… Avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Do not use the telephone. Take off headsets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, & TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.

4. SUSPEND ACTIVITIES for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

5. INJURED PERSONS do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.

6. KNOW YOUR EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS.

Teach this safety slogan:
“If you can see it, flee it; if you can hear it, clear it.”

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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