I have addressed the issue of deaths attributed to lightning strikes in the past. Thanks to John Jensenius of NOAA, I am kept informed of the numbers of deaths and educational material to help lower the number. In 1941 there were 340 deaths and 1943 saw 450. During the past 13 years, NOAA had made a concerted effort to build awareness and reduce deaths. Much of the credit has to go to schools and sports teams who have implemented policies of delaying game play for 30 minutes after the last lightning is detected. Here is an important message John shared with me.
“According to our (NOAA’s) preliminary U.S. lightning death toll, 2013 set a new record for the fewest lightning deaths in a year. During 2013, 23 deaths were directly attributed to lightning in the U.S. The previous low record was in 2011 with 26 deaths. While we don’t like to see any lightning deaths, the continuing reduction in yearly fatalities is encouraging.
Florida and Arizona led the nation in 2013 lightning deaths with 4 each; followed by Texas, Illinois, and Kentucky with 2 each. Nine other states contributed one death each.Of the 23 deaths, 17 were male and 6 were female. The victim’s ages ranged from 8 to 66 with 7 fatalities in the 50-59 age categories. The 20-29 and 30-39 categories each had 6 fatalities.
In terms of activities, 13 of the 23 victims had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities prior to being struck. Fishing topped the list with 3 fatalities.
NOAA’s continuing efforts to promote lightning safety education and awareness contributed to the reduction in lightning fatalities. Our partners in the media, emergency management, and various sports and recreational organizations have also contributed significantly to NOAA’s efforts. In the 13 years since NOAA’s Lightning Safety Awareness Campaign began in 2001, there have been 469 lightning fatalities in the U.S. This compares with 755 fatalities in the 13 years prior to 2001.
Congratulations to everyone that helped contribute to this life-saving effort.”
We are always fighting to cut deaths for diseases. Incredible work is done. But, here we are able to reduce the average deaths from a 30-year average of 53 deaths to a 13-year average of 36 and the number is consistently lower. This is truly good news!