MT. VERNON —Lightning Safety Week is being observed through June 28.
The week is observed by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service to promote safety and raise awareness of the threat of lightning and thunderstorms in an effort to prevent lightning-related injuries.
“We want to remind our citizens that we are in the heart of thunderstorm season and we want to make sure we keep people safe from lightning strikes,” said Mt. Vernon Emergency Management Director Kevin Sargent.
According to NWS, each year lightning is responsible for about 50 direct deaths and 1,000 injuries in the United States.
“While lightning strikes are not common, they do happen numerous times in the United States,” Sargent said. “We just want the residents to be safe when they are outside doing summer activities.”
Information from IEMA states the peak season for lightning-related injuries is June through August.
“Summer is a predominate time for thunderstorms and people tend to be outside more,” said Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Steve Lueker.
Sargent and Lueker said there are misconceptions the public have about lightning dangers.
“People take lightning for granted and they think that if it is way off in the distance they don’t have to worry about it,” Sargent said. “But the fact of the matter is, if they did some research they would find out that you can never be too safe.”
Sargent remembers an unfortunate accident resulting in the death of a young athlete that happened in Carbondale. He was struck and killed during a pole vaulting event by lighting that was four miles away.
“We just want people to be aware and hopefully reduce the chances of a lightning-related accident,” Sargent said. “We don’t want that tragedy to happen in our community.”
If by chance an accident does occur and someone is struck by lightning, there are a few life saving techniques that can be performed while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.