Lying flat on the ground won’t help, standing under a tree is never a good idea and if you’re a man, fishing in Florida seems to be about the worst idea of all.
We’re talking about lightning. July is the peak month for fatal strikes in the U.S., and so far the 14 deaths through Tuesday afternoon are the most since 2009.
“It’s not a very good start to the year,” said John Jensenius, the National Weather Service’s lightning specialist based in Gray, Maine.
Jensenius said he doesn’t have a good idea why there has been an uptick in deaths. In 2014, 26 people died, which is equal to the five-year average. The odds of being struck over an 80-year life span are one in 12,000.
There are about 25 million cloud-to-ground strikes in the U.S. annually, and Florida leads the way with the most hits and deaths.
Men are more likely than women to be hit, and people out having a good time lead those at work or going about their daily routines.
Water sports account for the most leisure activity deaths and fishing represents almost half. On land, golf, contrary to myth, is not the No. 1 killer, Jensenius said. You’re more likely to be killed playing soccer, followed by golf, running and baseball.
Another myth Jensenius likes to dispel is that lightning directly strikes the people it kills. Only 3 percent to 5 percent of victims die that way.
Experts tell you to get off the phone, skip the shower and stay away from wall sockets during a thunderstorm. If you are far from a building, a car with a metal top will do. Jensenius doesn’t recommend driving, though.
The best thing to do, if you hear thunder, is to get under cover. Bolts can reach out 10 miles from storms and just because you may see the sun doesn’t mean you won’t see a flash of lightning.
Then wait 30 minutes after the last boom before venturing back out.