Lightning, although not included in a severe thunderstorm, is accountable for over 50 deaths in the US per year according to the National Weather Service.
Most fatalities occur during outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, swimming, and sports. Golf and soccer are two of the more notable sports where lightning-related casualties happen, because they usually involve an open field with more than one target.
For Peter DeBraal of the Cat-Tails at Meadowview in Kingsport, this is something he and his co-workers take very seriously. They've installed a system called Thor Guard, which tells them when lightning may strike within the area.
"When it detects lightning within a ten mile area, it will signal us and signal the horns. There's three horns throughout the golf course that will blow, usually giving the golfers about a ten minute time period to come in."
Fortunately, their efforts have been successful in that no casualties have come out of the golf course while DeBraal has been an employee there.
Meanwhile, across the street from Cat-Tails, Kari Matheney is the Aquatic Director at Kingsport Aquatic Center. Here, all lifeguards are trained to handle emergencies ranging from thunder and lightning to hail, tornadoes, and fog. Swimmers are not allowed outdoors until thirty minutes after the last lightning bolt is seen or last thunder strike is heard. They too, have not had any casualties due to lightning.
Neither Tennessee nor Virginia have seen a lightning-related casualty for quite some time. Because of people like Peter and Kari, the community is working hard to keep it that way.
While out and about this summer, remember this one rule: When thunder roars, go indoors!
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