By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator
How many times have you been at a College Station municipal park or athletic field and heard a 15-second blast of a horn? The piercing sound warns you that dangerous lightning has been detected in the area.
Since lightning can generate millions of volts of electricity, you’d be wise to heed the warning and seek shelter. With the severe thunderstorms we’ve experienced recently, it’s an ideal time to talk about lightning safety.
The City of College Station’s Thor Guard Lightning Prediction System proactively measures and analyzes the electrostatic field in the atmosphere and predicts the possible occurrence of lightning 8-20 minutes before it could potentially strike.
The system emits one 15-second horn blast, along with a flashing strobe light, to signal that potentially dangerous weather is approaching. Three short blasts mean the danger has passed, and you can return to your activities.
Even if you don’t hear a horn, it’s a good practice to stop your activities and leave the area whenever you see lightning or hear thunder. After all, thunder isn’t possible without lightning.
Here are some tips on what to do if you’re caught outside in a thunderstorm:
- No place outside is safe during a thunderstorm.
- If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
- When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter. Small outdoor buildings such as dugouts and sheds aren’t safe.
- Find a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows up.
- Stay in a safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets.
- Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
- Don’t lie on concrete floors, and don’t lean against concrete walls.
For more information on lightning safety, visit lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has worked for the Parks & Recreation Department for 15 years, the last five as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.
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Lightning Photo Credit: hamik/123RF Stock Photo