It is very important to monitor lightning and weather conditions when suspected to be in the area. If lightning is within 10 miles of venues it is strongly recommended as a determinant of when to suspend or postpone physical activities.
Suspension/Cancellation of Physical Activities
The decision to suspend or postpone a physical 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 or postpone physical activities because of the safety and welfare of all. In the absence of the certified athletic trainer or the athletic director coaches must exercise prudent decision making in regard to lightning safety. Although, the certified athletic trainer and the athletic director are responsible for making the recommendation to suspend or postpone physical activities due to lightning it is ultimately the coaches’ responsibility to do it.
Seeking Appropriate Shelter
A safe location at the first sign of thunder and/or lightning is highly recommended. By the time the flash-to-bang count approaches 40 seconds everyone 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 grounded buildings which make them safer than remaining outdoors during thunderstorms.
Designated Lightning Shelter Areas
The following areas are designated lightning safe venues:
- Field House
- Concession Stand
In the absence of the primary choice for shelter the secondary choice is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and the windows closed. Do not touch any part of the metal framework of the vehicle while inside during thunderstorms. It is important for everyone to seek the appropriate shelter immediately! The certified athletic trainer, the athletic director, and coaches should help to direct spectators and officials to the appropriate shelter.
If there is no safe location within a reasonable distance, then assume a crouched position on the ground in an effort to minimize contact with it. Do not lie flat!
Stay away from the tall trees or lone objects (such as light or flag poles), metal objects (fences or bleachers), standing pools of water, and open fields. Do not use landline telephones, except in emergency situations. A cell phone or a cordless phone is a safe alternative.
Resumption of Physical Activities Following Suspension Due to Inclement Weather
Once physical activities have been suspended teams should wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder and/or lightning before resuming a physical activity outdoors. The certified athletic trainer or the 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 physical 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 emergency attention immediately!