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Lightning Safety Program
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Transcript of NOAA Lightning Safety B-roll Video

Siri Mullinex: 30 second Public Service Announcement

And parried over the bar by Siri Mullinix!!! what a save for the Washington keeper…"
Hi, I'm Siri Mullinix from the Washington Freedom. According to NOAA's National Weather Service, lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Lightning can strike areas up to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. Even if it's not raining where you are, you could still be within striking distance. Stay informed about weather conditions and if you hear thunder, stop what you're doing and get indoors until 30 minutes after the storm has passed. Lightning Kills, Play it Safe.

Rocco Mediate: 30 second Public Service Announcement

Hi I'm Rocco Mediate. According to NOAA's National Weather Service, lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Taking chances on the court can be smart play, but not when it comes to stormy weather. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. If you see lightning, or even just hear thunder, play it safe. Stop what you're doing and get indoors, and stay there until the storm has passed. Lightning kills, play it safe.

Rocco Mediate: 10 second Public Service Announcement

Hi, I'm Rocco Mediate. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. If you see lightning, or even just hear thunder, play it safe and get indoors until the storm has passed.

Michael Utley, Lightning Strike Survivor, Yarmouth, MA:

We don't think of golf as a hazardous sport. It's not something that we turn to the extreme network to watch, but I'm here today to tell you today that it is. If it wasn't for the guys in my foursome knowing CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, I would be dead, or worse yet I would be a basket case that somebody needed to take care of; a burden on my family.

America should know that we can make a difference. I was playing with a guy who I'm very happy that his wife had him take a refresher course in CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. It was 11 minutes before the EMTs got to me, he worked with a buddy...another buddy of mine for 10 to 12 minutes in a pouring rainstorm doing mouth-to-mouth and CPR. If it wasn't for those two guys, I wouldn't be talking to you today.

I want people to know that lightning kills and that might possibly might not be the worst thing to could fry your mind and leave your body a charred remnant of what it was.

By frying your mind, what I mean is that the cognitive problems that develop 2-3-4 years down the road after being struck or documented. You're senior moments tend to come much earlier and more often, you have very little ability to concentrate and to focus on one thing, you end up questioning everything you do; you're not sure you did it the way you wanted to do it or not, you have to go back and try it again. The other thing is what it does to your body. Your body reverts back to 2 or 3 months of bedridden non-activity, you need to relearn all of the basic things in life; how to walk, how to eat, how to use utensils, how to swallow a glass of water. Swallowing seems to be one of the things that is affected the most because of the autotomic system and what happens if you cant swallow? You beg for a glass of water.

The change in your life and the life of those around you if you're not killed when you are hit by lightning is dramatic. Not only does your life change, but your wife, your family, and those immediately around you all change from enjoying life to becoming care givers. You enjoy life through other people's eyes and other people's events, not from your own.

There are many things you have to relearn after being struck, you have to relearn how to eat with utensils, how to shave, how to swallow a glass of water, how to walk, a lot of basic things that we take for granted; you have to start all over again. Your body does not remember how to do them, you need to re-teach it just about everything you do in a day.

To protect my daughter from lightning, I pay a lot more attention to the weather. If we are outside, I make sure that there are cars parked outside around the field that she is playing in. With the advent around the country of large recreation areas where you have 7-10-12 baseball and soccer fields all together, the kids out in the middle of the field are the largest objects around, its natural for lightning to strike them, and its very important that the coaches and officials pay attention to the weather, the kids lives are in your hands.

One of the best things we can do in a situation like this, where there are a lot of kids taking up an activity at once is to park buses around the perimeter of those fields so that in the case of a thunderstorm, we can all run into the safety provided by that bus.

[VIDEO CLIPS of Micheal Utley on the golf course]

Dr. Mary Ann Cooper:

I think one of the reasons that lightning is such a crusade for me is because most people don't know the dangers of lightning and 90 % of the people who are injured by lightning live and many of them have significant disabilities which really changes families and changes lives. Lightning kills more people than hurricanes or tornadoes, but its an individual injury so you don't hear as much about it as you do tornadoes, hurricanes, or any other natural disasters that we have.

Now, the problem is that those who survive, many of them have significant disability. Many of them have brain injury and can not return to work, can't return to the family situations they were in before, or it really changes the family dynamics because the child or the bread winner is so different.

You know, the only cause of death from a lightning injury is from cardiac arrest, so if you know CPR, you may be able to save someone's life who's been injured by lightning.

Too many coaches and too many people want to continue their activity until the rain actually comes. Lightning can hit as many as 10 miles in front of a thunderstorm and that's frequently where we see the injuries, where it appears to be coming out of what some people say is a clear, blue sky. Many, many times lightning has hit with clear sky overhead or clear sky in the area because it goes in front of the thunderstorm.

Lightning when it's coming down from the sky goes down about 50 yards spurts. It goes down, then separates, comes down separates a second generation, then goes back up, then the fourth generation goes back up. So lightning really only sees a radius of about 30 to 50 yards from the last time that it is branched. So with that tower, the telephone tower that is over there 300 feet from you or the hill that is half a mile away or the field house that is 150 feet away, isn't going to be the one that is hit. If you are the tallest object in your little 30 to 50 yard radius, you are still going to be a target.

We have a thing that we teach kids about lightning safety that is easy for them to remember and that is if you see it, flee it and if you hear it clear it. Three-year-olds can understand that and remember that. Sometimes the kids are better than their parents are about warning them about thunderstorms and lightning.

One of the other things that we teach is the 30:30 rule. The first 30 goes for 30 seconds is the time between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder, well frankly I don't even bother to count, if you see the lightning, or if you hear the thunder, you should be seeking shelter, particularly if you are responsible for kids or a team or something like that. The last thirty, then, is important, 'cause that is 30 minutes. You shouldn't resume activity until 30 minutes after the last time you heard thunder or saw lightning.

Thank goodness in the last few years there has been a support group that has formed for lightning strike and electric shock survivors that does a tremendous service as far as helping them understand their injury, get appropriate care, have their families to understand what is going on. These people who are injured most of the time look the same on the outside, but their brain may not be functioning the same, the kinds of chronic pains that they have that really changed their lives, are very difficult for someone elde to understand and the support group has been very helpful making these people know that they are not crazy and not pretending.

I'm really excited about this National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, this is the first year we've ever done this, the National Weather Service has done a wonderful service as well as NOAA in planning this. And I'd really like to thank the PGA and Rocco for his words and for all the wonderful support that the PGA has given us and for doing a press conference at the Buick Open.

For more information about lightning safety, you cant tune in to the National Lightning Safety Awareness Week website that is done by NOAA and it's for information about lightning injuries you can go to our website which is www.uic (for University of Illinois at Chicago) .edu/labs/ightninginjury

[VIDEO CLIPS OF Mary Ann Cooper at work]

Scott Gudes, NOAA Acting Administrator

NOAA's message along with the PGA tour and Rocco Mediate is quite simple. When a thunderstorm comes along, when lightning threatens, seek shelter immediately, let the storm play through.

NOAA and the PGA Tour are getting together to do this lightning safety campaign because lightning is an underrated killer in this country. In fact, we lose more Americans each year from lightning than we do from hurricanes or tornadoes.

Lightning is a great threat, in fact, we have some 25 million lightning strikes each year and in fact lightning can strike from a storm that's 10 miles away.


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