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Golfers: Don't Take Risks When it Comes to Lightning

By By Bo Zhang, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
June 11, 2012, 3:13:29 AM EDT

Approximately 5 percent of annual lightning deaths and injuries in the United States happen on golf courses, according to studies done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

According to National Weather Service, there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes in the United States each year, killing an average of 58 people annually. This number is higher than the 57 deaths per year caused by tornadoes and average of 48 deaths from hurricanes.


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Because the lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is underrated as a risk.

Documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year. People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term symptoms, including memory loss, chronic pain, numbness, dizziness, muscle spasms, depression and more.

Take the following tips for lightning safety and stay away from danger.

1) Watch for developing thunderstorms and get prepared beforehand.

2) When to seek shelter: Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek shelter immediately.

3) Stop any outdoor activities when you hear thunder to ensure you have enough time to get to a large building.

4) Avoid touching any electrical equipment, like computers, televisions, microwaves and even corded phones. Cell phones and laptops, on the other hand, are safe to use, as long as they are not plugged into a charger.

5) Unplug any of your electronics before the storm arrives.

6) Lightning can travel through pipes so avoid all plumbing during a thunderstorm. That means no washing your hands.

7) Stay away from any windows. Lightning has been known to strike through glass.

The National Lightning Safety Institute's "A Lightning Safety Mandate for the Game of Golf" has more useful tips and information.

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