29 Jul 2021
This past weekend, there have been three incidents in Southwest Florida in which five people have been seriously hurt by lightning strikes. One of them occurred on the beach near the Sanibel Beach Club off Nerita Street on Saturday afternoon (July 24). This probably most alarming to us, not just because it happened or who got hurt, but how it happened.
A man and his wife (visiting from South Carolina) were ankle-deep in the Gulf of Mexico when they were struck by what's literally known as a "bolt from the blue." That means there were no clouds overhead of them. The strike came from a storm on the mainland *six miles away* from them, in front of their two children, ages 2 and 5. Nearby beachgoers came to assist until paramedics came on the scene, despite the danger that the storm still posed. The children were taken to sit in a police car for their safety until their mother (who was still conscious) asked for them to ride in the ambulance with her. The father was transported to a local trauma center after CPR was performed. As of this writing, their church in South Carolina reported that the father is in critical condition, and the mother is recovering.
Florida has more lightning than anyplace else in the country, so it's important to be mindful of weather conditions, especially in the summertime or "rainy season," just as much as we would be with hurricane season. And it's important to note that when we say people were injured during a lightning strike, it means that they were hit with heat and the shock wave of force from the proximity of a lightning bolt. A direct hit from a lightning bolt on the human body is instantly fatal.
When planning any outdoor activities in Florida (or anywhere else, for that matter), be sure to monitor weather reports for chances of bad weather. You can hear thunder from 50 miles away, so we often say, "If you hear it, clear it. If you see it, flee it." Be prepared to seek shelter when you hear thunder and keep away from trees and bodies of water. By "shelter," that means a substantial building (away from faucets, tubs, and windows) or a hard-top vehicle (no convertibles). Avoid being or standing near the tallest thing in the open. If you're in a group, spread out if you can so that if one is hit, others will be in a position to help. And wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike before resuming outdoor activities.
We here at Sanibel Holiday want you to enjoy our little Paradise and remain safe you can repeat the process again and again.
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