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Daily Q&A: How can I avoid getting hit by lightning?

What tips can you offer about staying safe during a lightning storm?

Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, notes in her consumer newsletter that Florida is the lightning capital of North America with an average of 1.4 million lightning strikes each year.

With the summer months the peak time for lightning strikes, Sink offers these tips to help keep you safe:

• Schedule activities that avoid the hours of peak thunderstorm activity (early afternoon to early evening). If thunderstorms are in the forecast, consider canceling or postponing your plans.

• Under a tree in the middle of a field is probably the worst place to seek shelter. The tree may help you stay dry, but will significantly increase your risk of being struck by lightning, as lightning typically strikes the highest object.

• If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees or set up camp in a valley or other low area. Stay away from metal objects such as bleachers, fences and poles. Though metal does not "attract" lightning, it is an excellent conductor of electricity and can easily travel long distances.

• The safest location during lightning activity is a large enclosed building, not a picnic pavilion or open shed. The second safest location is an enclosed metal vehicle with windows closed. Try not to touch any metal surfaces inside the car. Soft-topped vehicles such as convertibles and open jeeps are not safe.

• The majority of lightning deaths on the water involve single deck boats. If your boat has an enclosed deck and you cannot outrun an approaching storm, go below the deck and try to stay away from any metal. Unplug all electronic devices and lower the radio antenna and other protruding objects.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: How can I avoid getting hit by lightning? 06/28/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 28, 2010 5:52pm]
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