Lightning is caused by static electricity created by friction of raindrops and ice crystals being thrown around by strong thunderstorm winds. Lightning may be fun to watch but it's very dangerous as well. An average of 73 people per year in the U.S. dies from lightning strikes.

Lightning doesn't get as much attention as tornadoes or hurricanes since it usually has only one or two victims at a time. There are likely many more deaths and injuries than we hear about.

When lightning is present, the thunder you hear is the sound wave that's generated as the heat and rapidly expanding air around the lightning channel breaks the sound barrier.

It's important to know that lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the parent cloud. That's about the distance you are able to hear the thunder from a distant storm. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning and you should go to a safe shelter immediately.

Most common locations to be hit by lightning:
1. open fields
2. under trees
3. in or near water
4. while playing golf
5. while using heavy equipment
6. while on the telephone
7. near a radio, transmitter or antenna

Lightning Safety Tips
1. Stay inside a completely enclosed building
2. Do not go to a carport, open garage, covered patio, or open window
3. A hard topped all metal vehicle provides good protection
4. Do not take shelter under a tree
5. Avoid being the tallest object in the area
6. Get out of the water, off the beach and out of small boats or canoes
7. Do not use metal objects such as golf clubs, metal bats, fishing rods, or metal tools
8. Stop and get off of tractors and heavy construction equipment
9. Stay away from windows, doors, and metal pipes
10. Do not use electrical appliances
11. Do not use a hard line phone
12. Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning.
13. Most lightning strikes occur in the summer months, during the afternoon and early evening. 14. Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000.