Section: Safety & Security Policy Number: 7-46 Policy Name: Lightning Safety for Outdoor Activities Date: February 2001; February 10, 2014
To ensure the safety of guests, participants, and staff
during outdoor activities and to provide the criteria
for suspension and sheltering when lightning is detected
approaching or threatening outdoor activities.
Lightning strikes approximately 1,000 people annually in the
United States, causing fatalities in about 1/3 of these
cases. Most of these cases involve persons in outdoor, open
areas during the period preceding, during, or after a
lightning storm. Lightning storms move at speeds of 25 mph
or more and lightning can strike as much as 30 miles ahead
of or following the main rain cell of a lightning storm,
striking from a clear blue sky. Because of this, visual
means of lightning detection is inadequate. Further, persons
must seek shelter in advance of the visual lightning or
the main rain cell.
All persons managing or coordinating outdoor events or groups
that conduct outdoor activities are required to review the
procedures outlined in this policy and departmental procedures
at least annually.
During the summer thunderstorm season all persons managing or
coordinating outdoor events or groups that conduct outdoor
activities are advised to monitor the weather forecast by
local radio or internet for the potential for lightning
or severe weather.
Outdoor events with crowds which will require >10 minutes
to evacuate must utilize an electronic detection system
for monitoring the presence of lightning in the area
when severe weather is forecast or expected.
Outdoor activities with groups that take <10 minutes for
evacuation should also use electronic detection systems;
however, other recognized means of lightning monitoring
may be considered and must be approved for use by the
department safety committee or unit administrator.
The event manager or person responsible for conducting
outdoor activities shall terminate or suspend activities
when directed by Public Safety or their lightning
monitoring means indicates the presence of lightning
within threatening distances based on the time required
to reach shelter. For large outdoor events such as
football games, graduation, convocation, etc. the event
manager will defer the decision for cancellation to the
hightest ranking official available.
Events shall not resume until lightning is no longer
detected within the ranges warranted in (E) above.
A lightning safety reference guide is available at
Environmental Health and Safety website. For questions or concerns
regarding this policy contact the Department of Environmental Health and
Safety at x8475 or Public Safety at x2222.