Lightning safety: What to do when a storm approaches

By Mallory Nicholls, Meteorologist
Last Updated: Friday, May 20, 2016, 6:17 PM EDT

Lightning is so common in Florida, the state has been named The Lightning Capital of North America.

There have already been five deaths in 2016 in the U.S.  — two of them in Florida.

Whether you live here or are just visiting, you’ll want to know how to protect yourself when lightning strikes.

Whether it’s at a golf course, a soccer or football game, running or biking at a park, or at the beach, do you know how to keep your family safe from an approaching storm?

“Our protocol is anything inside 8 miles, a lightning strike, we will sound our alarm, which is basically an air horn that we do manually,” said Jay Davis of the Country Club of Orlando.

“We evacuate once there’s a strike within 8 miles, and we have to wait within 30 minutes after the last strike within 8 miles,” Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson said.

Although most places have ways to alert visitors, it’s still important to be aware.

In 2014, seven people were sent to hospitals when lightning struck just outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa after a Buccaneers football game.

Lightning can strike 10 miles away from a storm, so if thunder roars, go indoors.

If you’re inside, lightning threats are still possible. You’ll want to avoid taking a shower or talking on a land line phone.

If your cell phone is charging and plugged into a wall, lightning can travel through the wire and injure you.

One way to know whether lightning is approaching is with our News 13+ app. We now have a lightning detection feature that will alert you if lightning is within 10 miles.

“Just be prepared, be smart. If you see lightning, don’t go in the water and be aware of your surroundings and seek shelter,” Johnson said.