Lightning Policy

Chain of Command

The responsibility for terminating an athletic activity in the event of lightning, severe weather, and/or storms lies with the FUMA certified aquatics director or the FUMA Administration.

Criteria For Evacuation of the Aquatics Center

The policy of the Fork Union Military Academy Estes Aquatic Center will be as follows:
• The aquatics director will inform the coaches and game official(s) of FUMA’s policy with regards to lightning, severe weather, and/or storms during warm-ups.
• The aquatics director will monitor the lightning, will watch for lightning and listen for thunder, and will be responsible for keeping track of the “flash / bang” count.
• The aquatics director will also monitor local weather radar and media outlets for severe thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane, and/or other severe weather watches / warnings.
• When the “flash/bang” count reaches
40 seconds, the 8-20 mile alarm indicator is illuminated on the lightning detector, and/or a severe weather watch has been issued, a LU certified athletic trainer will notify the following persons:

• When the “flash/bang” count reaches 30 seconds or less, the 3-8 mile alarm indicator is illuminated on the lightning detector, and/or a severe weather warning has been issued, the FUMA aquatics director will notify the following persons-

At this point, all meet/practice activities are to cease IMMEDIATELY, and ALL personnel are to evacuate to a safe structure or location.

• A safe structure or location is defined as- “any sturdy, fully enclosed, substantial, and
frequently inhabited building that has plumbing and/or electrical wiring that acts to electrically ground the structure”. Examples of locations that routinely DO NOT meet the criteria include-

• In the absence of a sturdy, fully enclosed, substantial, and frequently inhabited location as described above, a secondary structure such as a fully enclosed vehicle with a hard metal roof, rubber tires, and completely closed windows can provide a measure of safety. Persons should not touch the sides of the vehicle! Convertible and “soft-top” vehicles, and golf carts do no provide a high level of protection and cannot be considered safe from lightning.
• Persons should avoid taking showers and using plumbing facilities and land-line telephones during a thunderstorm.
• If no safe structure or location is within a reasonable distance, personnel should find a thick grove of small trees surrounded by taller trees or a dry ditch. Everyone should assume the “lightning-safe” position- a crouched position on the ground with the feet together, weight on the balls of the feet, head lowered, and ears covered.
DO NOT LIE FLAT! Minimize the body’s surface area and minimize contact with the ground.
• If unable to reach safe shelter, persons should stay away from the tallest trees or objects (i.e. light poles, flag poles, etc.), metal objects (i.e. fences, bleachers, etc.), individual trees, standing pools of water, and open fields. Persons should avoid being the highest object in an open field.
• In situations where thunder and/or lightning may or may not be present, yet someone feels his/her hair stand on end and skin tingle, LIGHTNING IS IMMINENT! Therefore, all persons should assume the “lightning-safe” position as described above.
• A cellular and/or portable remote phone is a safe alternative to land-line phones, if the person and the antenna are located within a safe structure or location, and if all other precautions are followed.
• If the FUMA administration has cancelled classes at the school due to severe weather, the FUMA aquatics director strongly recommends the cancellation of all meets games, practices, and other activities.
• All individuals should have the right to leave a site or activity, without fear of repercussion or penalty, in order to seek a safe structure or location if they feel that they are in danger from impending lightning activity.

Criteria For Safe Return to the Practice/Game Area

• Personnel should not return to the aquatics center area until thirty (30) minutes have passed since the “flash/bang” count is greater than 30, the last lightning flash or the last sound of thunder and/or the lightning detector indicates that lightning is greater than 20 miles away.
• Each time the “flash/bang” count goes below 30, lightning is observed and/or thunder is heard, the “30-minute clock” is to be reset.
• Blue skies in the local area and/or a lack of rainfall are not adequate reasons to breach the 30-minute return-to-play rule. Lightning can strike up to ten (10) miles away from the rain shaft of a storm.


Prehospital Care of Victims of a Lightning Strike
• Because lightning-strike victims do not remain connected to a power source, they do not carry an electric charge. Therefore, it is safe to touch the victim to move him/her to a safe location and to render medical treatment.
• During an ongoing thunderstorm, lightning activity in the local area still poses a deadly hazard for personnel responding to the victim. Personnel should consider his/her own personal safety before venturing into a dangerous situation to render care.
• The first priority of personnel is to move the lightning strike victim to a safe location.
• Prompt, aggressive CPR has been highly effective for the survival of victims of lightning strikes. Therefore, it is critical that CPR and AED use is initiated as soon as safely possible.
• The basic triage principle of “treat the living first” should be reversed in cases involving casualties from a lightning strike. It is imperative to treat those persons who are “apparently dead” first.
• Lightning strike victims should be evaluated and treated for hypothermia, shock, fractures, and burns as well.

The “Flash / Bang” Method

•This is a simple method used to estimate how far away a lightning flash is.
• Begin timing (in seconds) as soon as a lightning flash is seen;
• Stop timing as soon as a thunder sound is heard after the lightning flash. This number is the “flash/bang” count.
• Divide the “flash/bang” count by five (5).
• The resulting number is the distance, in miles, from the practice/game area to the lightning flash.