US Lightning Deaths Climb to 15 So Far in 2014

July 27, 2014; 2:10 AM ET
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The death toll from lightning so far in 2014 has reached 15 in the United States, with six fatalities in Florida topping the list.

Scott Wilcox was fatally struck by lightning while walking along Fort Myers Beach in Florida on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Two others were injured, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius.

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Colorado ranks as the second state in terms of lightning deaths so far in 2014, after two deadly lightning strikes occurred in two days at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado in the middle of July.

Of the lightning fatalities this year, 12 have been male victims and three have been female.

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.

Aerial view of lightning over Denver on July 24, 2014. (Twitter Photo/@labelldame)

"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."

It's important to pay attention to rapidly changing weather conditions in the summer and stay alert of stormy conditions.

AccuWeather.com MinuteCast™ has the minute-by-minute forecast for your exact location when thunderstorms and lightning are a threat. Type your city name, select MinuteCast™, and input your street address. On mobile, you can also use your GPS location.

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.

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