Lightning-related deaths increasing at alarming rate in Alabama

Updated: Jul. 14, 2018 at 8:30 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The number of deaths caused by lightning are adding up as we get deeper into the summer months.

Just two days ago, a Huntsville woman who was struck by lightning died from her injuries.

"I don't think that people really consider lightning to be that much of a threat, because usually you see it off in the distance," said Gerald Satterwhite with the National Weather Service.

Satterwhite says that couldn't be farther from the truth.

"People don't realize lightning can hit very far away from a thunderstorm.  As much as 10-15 miles away.  And it doesn't have to be raining where you are.  Just being close to a thunderstorm puts you at risk," he said.

That risk of being struck increases if you're outside, or near anything that can conduct electricty. Yard work, roofing or fishing are all listed as activities victims were doing when they were fatally struck.

"It does seem like males take a lot more risks when it comes to severe weather. You'll see from year to year, it appears more males are succumbing to lightning strikes than females," Satterwhite said.

On June 28, a Huntsville woman was struck by lightning inspecting a sea wall. She died two weeks later. Her death brings the total number of fatalities this year to 14.

And with these summer storms popping up within minutes, if you can't find shelter during a storm, Satterwhite suggests a Plan B.

"The best thing to do is get low on your ankles, form a ball. You want to stay away from tall objects, such as trees, anything that is metallic that can conduct electricity, such as fencing or any sort of sporting equipment," he said.

Satterwhite says you should wait at least 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder or flash of lightning before you head outdoors.

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