Lightning Protocol

Updated Tuesday December 22, 2015 by Cheryl Erickson.

Severe Storms and Lightning 

Lightning is a threat during any severe thunderstorm. Coaches should move students off of the field or buses into a building for safety if lightning is occurring. Coaches in charge of athletic events should be aware of approaching severe storms or other weather related emergencies. It is suggested that school officials could use the public address systems to warn spectators of approaching severe weather. Coaches, officials, or administrators should stop play when it is determined that it is unsafe to play. 

Regardless of the sophistication of weather monitoring devices and predictions, lightning creates situations that are impossible to anticipate. How can we go about judging the dangers of lightning beyond guesswork? What is the rule to be followed when (1) lightning is not visible but conditions are right for its development, (2) lightning is a possibility due to conditions, (3) lightning is imminent? 

While the probability of being struck by lightning is very low, the odds are significantly greater when a storm is in the area and the proper safety precautions are not followed. More deaths in the United States are caused by lightning than any other natural phenomenon. One in twelve individuals struck are hit while playing golf. Also, more people are struck during involvement in recreational and sporting events than while working. 

We have heard of lightning strikes from clear, overhead skies. These strikes have resulted in deaths and injury. We are in immediate risk of the possibility of a lightning strike when the leading edge of a thunderstorm is within 10 miles. Such lightning would come from the “anvil cloud” or overhanging leading edge of a thunderstorm.