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Lightning Safety

Lightning Can Kill!

Lightning is one of the most consistent causes of weather-related deaths and injury in the U.S.  According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, there are approximately 100 lightning-related deaths and over 1000 injuries yearly.  Risk is present WHENEVER lightning can be seen or thunder can be heard.  As soon as lightning is seen or thunder is heard, practice and competition should be suspended immediately.

It is important that schools develop a Lightning Safety Plan.  The following guidelines are provided by the NFHS.
  1. Assign staff to monitor local weather conditions before and during events.
  2. Develop an evacuation plan, including identification of appropriate nearby shelters.
  3. Develop criteria for suspension and resumption of play:
    • When thunder is heard, or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen, the thunderstorm is close enough to strike your location with lightning.  Suspend play and take shelter immediately.
    • Thirty-minute rule.  Once play has been suspended, wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or flash of lightning is witnessed prior to resuming play.
    • Any subsequent thunder or lightning after the beginning of the 30-minute count, reset the clock and another 30-minute count should begin.
  4. Hold periodic reviews for appropriate personnel.

Additional Information

For additional information on lightning safety, see the "resources" on the right of this page, or visit any of the following websites:

National Lightning Safety Institute
The Weather Channel
The National Weather Service
Lightning Policy (NFHS 2010)
VHSL SMAC Lightning Best Practices (2013)