Monitor lightning and weather conditions when suspected to be in the area. If lightning is within 8 miles of venue is strongly recommended as a determinant of when to suspend or postpone athletic or recreational activities.
Suspension/Cancellation of Activities
The decision to suspend an athletic activity due to lightning is based on current research as well as the recommendations set forth in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Lightning Safety for Athletics & Recreation. It is important coaches understand the recommendation to suspend activities has the safety and welfare of all individuals in mind. In the absence of the Athletic Trainer or Athletic Director, the coach must exercise prudent decision making in regard to lightning safety. Although the Athletic Trainer and Athletic Director are responsible for making the recommendation to suspend athletic activities due to lightning, it is ultimately the coaches’ responsibility to suspend their individual practice or game based on these recommendations.
Seeking Appropriate Shelter
Seeking shelter in a safe location at the first sign of thunder or lightning activity is highly recommended. By the time the flash-to-bang count approaches 40-seconds; all individuals should already be inside a safe location. The primary choice for shelter is any sturdy building with four enclosed walls. Electric and telephone wiring, as well as plumbing pathways aid in grounding buildings; thus, make them safer than remaining outdoors during thunderstorms.
In the absence of the initial choice for shelter, the secondary choice is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and the windows closed which can include a school bus. It is important not to touch any part of the metal framework of the vehicle while inside the car during ongoing thunderstorms. It is important not only athletes and coaches seek shelter; but, spectators and officials as well. Coaches should help to direct spectators and visiting team members to appropriate shelter.
If there is no safe shelter within a reasonable distance, assume a crouched position on the ground with their weight on the balls of their feet in an effort to minimize contact with the ground. Wrap your arms around your knees and lower your head. DO NOT LIE FLAT!
Stay away from the tallest trees or lone objects (such as light poles or flag poles), metal objects (metal fences or bleachers), standing pools of water, and open fields. Do not use land-line telephones, except in emergency situations. A cellular telephone or a cordless telephone is a safe alternative to a land-line telephone.
Resumption of Activities Following Suspension Due to Inclement Weather
Once activities have been suspended, teams should wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder and/or lightning flash before resuming an activity or returning outdoors. The Athletic Trainer or other designated weather watcher will continue to monitor the weather conditions and will decide in conjunction with the Athletic Director, coaches, and officials when it is safe to return to activity.
First Aid for Lightning Strike Victims
Remember, lightning strike victims DO NOT carry an electrical charge. Therefore, first responders can safely touch lightning strike victims. Lightning strike victims who show signs of cardiac or respiratory arrest need prompt emergency attention. CPR is safe for the responder. Prolonged and aggressive CPR is highly effective for the survival of many victims of lightning strike.