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Dangerous weather

Dangerous weather


Protecting players when lightning strike

Each year approximately 70 people are killed by lightning and another 400 are injured. Since ball fields and open areas are the second most likely places for a person to be struck by lightning (golf courses pose the most risk) coaches and league administrators must keep an eye on changing weather conditions to protect the youngsters on the field, as well as the spectators in the stands.

Most experts recommend that outdoor athletic events should be post-poned when thunderstorms are less than six miles away. When you can hear thunder you usually are no longer safe and should take cover.

The best way to determine the distance of a thunderstorm is to measure the elapsed time from the flash to the bang. Every five-second count equals a distance of a mile. So, for example, a count to 15 seconds equals a distance of three miles.

The following are some important facts to keep in mind regarding lightning:

  • it can strike from as far away as 10 miles
  • the average thunderstorm is six to 10 miles wide
  • a person who has been struck by lightning does not carry an electrical charge and must receive immediate first aid.
  • the best source of protection from lightning is a sturdy building, staying away from open doors, windows, electrical appliances, plumbing fixtures and landline phones. The next safest option is a vehicle, though occupants are still at risk of being injured if lightning strikes the vehicle.
  • refuge should never be taken under or near trees, tall objects, bleachers or fences.

This information was provided by John Sadler, president of Sadler & Company, which has specialized in insuring sports and recreation organizations since 1957. For more details, or to check out additional risk management reports, visit

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