INFOGRAPHIC: Lightning Strikes in the US by the Numbers

By , Meteorologist
June 25, 2014; 6:42 AM ET
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Lightning strikes the water near Dock Street in Cedar Key, Fla., on July 7, 2012. (bonishphotography/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Each year, 51 people are killed and hundreds more are injured by lightning in the United States, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Two-thirds of those deaths occur while people are engaging in outdoor leisure activities, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius. Fishing tops the list of activities people are involved in when they are struck fatally by lightning, with three times more deaths resulting from fishing than golfing.

It's crucial to have a plan when headed outdoors and to stay alert to rapidly changing weather conditions. MinuteCast™ has the minute-by-minute forecast for your exact location when showers and thunderstorms threaten. Type your city name, select MinuteCast™, and input your street address. On mobile, you can also use your GPS location.

The NWS has declared that June 22-28 is lightning safety awareness week. Information for the infographic above was provided by the NWS.

Lightning deaths are most common during the summer months due to the highest frequency of thunderstorms coinciding with a time when people spend more time outdoors.

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"The plethora of summer thunderstorms is the result of the influx of warm, moist air that is usually not present in the cooler months," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said. "The atmosphere is always trying to find a balance and thunderstorms are nature's air conditioners on a hot and humid summer day."

Lightning Safety Tips

1. Always head indoors when you hear thunder. It means lightning may be close enough to strike.

2. Go inside a substantial building with plumbing and electricity. Open gazebos or pavilions are not safe alternatives for shelter, while an enclosed metal-topped vehicle with all the windows shut is safe.

3. When inside, stay away from any equipment with running electricity, including a corded phone, computer or TV.

4. Stay away from plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.

5. Avoid windows and doors and stay off porches.

6. Do not lie on concrete floors and avoid leaning against concrete walls.

If you are caught outside and there are no safe areas for shelter nearby, see the tips below to reduce your risk of being struck.

Last Resort: If You Have No Safe Shelters Nearby and You Are Outdoors

1. Avoid elevated areas such as hills or ridges.

2. Never lie flat on the ground.

3. Do not seek shelter under an isolated tree.

4. Stay away from bodies of water, including ponds and lakes.

5. Avoid anything that can conduct electricity, including barbed wire fences, power lines and windmills.

Content contributed by AccuWeather Staff Writer Michael Kuhne.

Image Thumbnail: Lightning strikes the water near Dock Street in Cedar Key, Fla., on July 7, 2012. (bonishphotography/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)


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