Consider all the occupations where the ‘office’ is outdoors:
· Highways and road crews
· Airport ground personnel
· Power utility repair
· Heavy equipment operation
· Farming and field labor
Lightning is an often overlooked occupational hazard, despite the many weather-related injuries that occur worldwide to those whose jobs require extensive time spent outdoors. INO Technologies is aiming to change that with their personal, portable weather monitor that works to keep outdoor workers out of harm’s way when potentially dangerous storms or excessive heat or cold develop.
Wouldn’t it bring you peace of mind to have an affordable, personal, portable weather monitor to take with you to our outside job every day? You would have a reliable and accurate way to monitor approaching storms anywhere you are and get yourself to safety before disaster strikes in the form of lightning, hail, high winds, extreme heat and extreme cold.
How does a handheld weather monitor work?
A cluster of electronic sensors for temperature, barometric pressure, lightning detection, humidity, and more are housed in a single hand-held device to assist you in gathering information about what the weather is doing where you are working. The device’s display screen shows you current weather data, including how far impending lightning strikes are, for your location without using the internet or a cellular connection.
Armed with this array of easy to understand weather data, people who work outdoors can pay close attention to what is happening in their environment and act promptly to get themselves and coworkers to a safe place (and not go back outside too soon after a storm has passed).
OSHA has published a number of documents on staying safe when working outdoors, including reducing lightning hazards, winter weather precautions, and occupational heat stress. For more OSHA resources, click here.
Contrary to popular belief, Colorado lightning can strike twice. After all, there is no way to completely evade lightning–it is a natural phenomenon. The Denver area recently experienced two separate lightning-related accidents that transpired in early May 2017.
In the first situation, a woman was watching a Little League baseball game in Highlands Ranch. According to reports from others at the game, she was sitting under a tent, which was allegedly under a tree. This situation put her at greater risk than normal to be struck by lightning. Luckily for this woman, her injuries were non-threatening, though she was taken to a local hospital for further monitoring.
In the second situation of Colorado lightning, another woman was riding her horse on a recreational trail in Douglas County when she and her horse were struck by lightning. The woman was riding with another person, a teenager, who also got struck by lightning. In the teenager’s case, she made it out of the situation with severe injuries but lived to tell the tale. But for the woman and her horse, the lightning strike was fatal. It was reported that the riders saw signs of lightning and were trying to stay ahead of the storm while meeting up with another person.
According to National Weather Service data, lightning killed 38 people last year, the most since 2007, when 45 people died. These deaths certainly don’t account for the majority of fatal accidents (like driving accidents), but every single one of them is largely preventable with the right preparation and education.
What to do When There’s a Storm and You’re Stuck Outdoors
The two aforementioned situations of dangerous Colorado lightning strikes are painful to imagine but offer the opportunity to educate outdoors enthusiasts and sports teams (and their loyal fans) on how to deal with a storm when you’re stuck outdoors.
- Avoid high places, like isolated trees, open fields, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, communications towers, flagpoles, light poles, and bleachers.
- Go indoors if possible. Even a car can be an ideal shelter from a lightning strike. Just make sure that the windows are closed!
- Assume the lightning position. Crouch as low as you can with as little of yourself touching the ground. When lightning strikes the ground, it causes electric currents on the top of the ground that can be deadly up to 100 feet away. In the case of the woman on the horse in the aforementioned case of Colorado lightning, the lightning strike killed her from 10 feet away.
- When you get inside, avoid using the telephone, running water or touching conductive surfaces like metal door frames.
There’s also something to be said about learning how to detect lightning and other stormy weather patterns.
Detecting Colorado Lightning and Weather Patterns
Thunder is an indicator that lightning is near, but you never really know how near. By using the popular Flash to Bang Method, you’ll only ever get a rough estimate. Because of this, when it comes to safety, you don’t want to compromise and leave it all to chance.
For a more precise way to detect lightning (and other dangerous weather), INO Technologies created The Weather Pro, a handheld weather device that reads a number of weather measurements (temperature, humidity, pressure, heat index, dew point, and altitude) in a small handy touch screen device. It is, in fact, the only handheld weather device that includes lightning detection.
For outdoors enthusiasts or sports teams in a bad weather, it’s the perfect tool for prevention, because there’s no need for cellular or internet signal thanks to its own built-in sensors.
Colorado Lightning Does Strike Twice
Lightning strikes are rare, but potentially deadly if proper precaution isn’t taken. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so consider investing in the INO Weather Pro if you’re the type that finds yourself frequently enjoying the great outdoors–and want to avoid the painful possibilities of Colorado lightning!
When we think of weather-related dangers during the summer months, our minds tend to wander towards the catastrophic. Things like tornadoes, floods, fires, or hurricanes. Even lightning is frightening. But are these huge events really the things we should be worried about, day in and day out? On average, heat index kills and hospitalizes more people than all of these other things combined.
Heat index is a basic calculation using temperature and relative humidity and is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put together this easy to use chart to explain the relationship.
As you can see, the dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion can start to set in at temperatures as low as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As humidity rises, you quickly get into the Extreme Caution and Danger zones.
Physical activity also contributes to your body’s ability to withstand high heat indexes. The more humid the air around you becomes, the more difficult it is for your sweat to evaporate and cool your body properly.
Heat Index – the silent killer
As noted in the article that accompanies the chart above, the heat index numbers were calculated assuming shady and light wind conditions. However, when we’re out hiking, working, and enjoying the outdoors, chances are we’re in direct sunlight and there may or may not be any wind. This can intensify heat index up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Your round of golf on the back nine just got a little riskier under the “right” conditions.
Additionally, it goes on to say that “strong winds, particularly with very hot, dry air, can be extremely hazardous.” This might sound contrary to what was just said about heat index, but having spent time in Death Valley, CA, I can tell you it’s true.
We all know that “dry heat” doesn’t feel as hot as “humid heat.” We also know that a light breeze can make us feel cooler too. So not only does the dry heat make us feel cool, but the breeze makes us feel cool, too; and both occurring at the same time makes us feel extra cool. It makes it easy to forget that we’re outside straining our bodies in 105 degree weather in direct sunlight. A quick look at the chart and we see that it only needs to be about 47% humidity and we’re in extreme danger. (Not to mention how much these conditions dehydrate our bodies, exacerbating the onset of heat exhaustion.)
Heat Index is everyone’s problem
It has become (or ‘still is,’ depending on how you view it) such a major issue this year that Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints is taking part in a public awareness campaign and speaking about his experiences with it.
Tragically, there seems to be at least one high-profile death every year from athletes being exposed and not carefully monitored while practicing and playing in these conditions.
In 2001, Korey Stringer, a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings, collapsed during training camp and never recovered. In 2011, a Dutch music promoter and his girlfriend died hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. In 2014, Dave Legeno, perhaps best known for his role in ‘Harry Potter,’ collapsed while hiking in Death Valley. In this 2009 article on Live Science, they cite an annual report from the University of North Carolina that states, “Since 1995, 33 football players have died from heat stroke.”
Don’t let heat index win
Now that you know what heat index is and just how dangerous it can be, here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe this summer:
Check the weather and use common sense
If it’s going to be 90 degrees and 75% humidity, you’re already in the danger zone. If you were planning to go on a 40 mile bike ride, see if you can postpone it a day or go in the evening when it’s cooler.
Seek shade, rest often
If you have to be out in Danger or Extreme Danger conditions, find as much shade as possible as frequently as possible. Don’t let your body heat up to the point you can’t cool it down naturally.
Drink a lot of water
By ingesting cool water, we can slightly decrease our core temperature momentarily. On top of that, making sure that we’re well hydrated ensures we have enough fluids to produce sweat (our bodies’ natural cooling mechanism).
Watch for signs of heat exhaustion
WebMD lists these common symptoms of heat exhaustion:
Dizziness and light-headedness
Lack of sweating despite the heat
Red, hot, and dry skin
Muscle weakness or cramps
Nausea and vomiting
Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
Rapid, shallow breathing
Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
Carry an INO Weather Pro™
We’re a bit biased, but we think this could solve a lot of problems for solo athletes, coaches, trainers, crew chiefs, and just about anyone that loves to be active or works outdoors. Not only does it provide temperature and humidity as separate measurements, but it does the heat index calculation for you and provides that as well.
Have fun and stay safe out there!
An interesting article from ListVerse lists 10 ‘bizarre’ lightning phenomena as impressive as the lightning itself. To read the full list, click here.
· Restoring sight to the blind – a truck driver was blinded in a traffic accident. Nine years later his sight was miraculously restored when he was struck by lightning after taking shelter under a tree. Later that evening his vision began to clear, eventually restoring his ability to read.
Lightning Cures Cancer
· Curing Cancer – in 1932 a man suffering from a diagnosis of terminal cancer and near the end of his life way laying in a hammock outside which was threaded with metal wires. Lightning struck the trees around his hammock and an electrical blast surged through the man, blowing off the bottom of his shoes. Inexplicably, the lightning cured his cancer.
· Creating temporary tattoos: ‘lightning flower’ or ‘lightning tree’ is a reddish feathery or fern-like fractal pattern sometimes seen on the neck or torso of lightning victims. The marks are temporary and usually appear within an hour or two of being struck. The marks are formed due to capillary damage and vary from person to person.
· “Weird, strange, and unbelievable” sounds known as whistlers were first detected by a listening station aboard the US Navy icebreaker Atka in the ’50s. They had a musical quality, described as a high- to low-pitched tone resembling a partial wolf whistle, and they originate when lightning discharges emit electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere. The waves travel along lines of force in Earth’s magnetic field, circle the planet in seconds, and return to the point of origin (hence the descending pitch). These sounds can be picked up with a special receiver and a long antenna.
Read a related article from NBC News about what a lightning strike might do to your skin. Click here.
The 30/30 Rule
Many of us have heard that if you determine the distance lightning is from you by counting the number of seconds between hearing thunder and seeing a lightning strike, that is how far away in miles the lightning is (not true). This notion is actually called “flash-to-bang” method because of the time between seeing and hearing lightning. Flash-to-bang is real, but not in the way we have traditionally believed.
Statistics show that the majority of people who are struck by lightning are struck before or after a thunderstorm, not during it. Given that lightning injuries often last a lifetime, it is wise to know with scientific accuracy just how far away lightning really is from where you are when a thunderstorm is clearly present.
Lightning comes first and subsequently, thunder. Seeing and hearing lightning and thunder can be used to protect yourself and others if you understand the 30/30 Rule. The first 30 is 30 seconds. If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing a lightning flash, the probability of being struck by lighting is great because the lightning is within 6 miles of your location. At this time one should seek proper shelter from the storm and remain in that shelter for 30 minutes (the second 30) after hearing the last thunder.
The following table is the correct Flash-to-Bang estimations calculated based on the speed of sound at sea level:
|If thunder is heard||The lightning is . . .|
|5 seconds after a flash||1 mile away|
|10 seconds after a flash||2 miles away|
|15 seconds after a flash||3 miles away|
|20 seconds after a flash||4 miles away|
|25 seconds after a flash||5 miles away|
|30 seconds after a flash||6 miles away|
NOAA and the National Weather Service recommend seeking immediate shelter when lightning is 6 miles or less of your location. To download a free copy of our wallet-sized lightning safety card click HERE.
While we all know the saying “lightning never strikes in the same place twice,” according to NOAA, lightning does, however, strike in the United States about 25 million times a year. And while lightning occurs most often during the summer months, you can still be struck at any time of year.
Lightning strikes are responsible for killing an average of 49 people in the United States each year as well as severely injuring hundreds more. 2016 alone has witnessed 38 deaths in the U.S. thus far.
When thunderstorms are in the area, there is no safe place outside. If you can hear thunder or see lightning, you are within striking distance and at risk. According to National Geographic, lightning “frequently strikes away from the rain core, either ahead or behind the thunderstorm” and “can strike as far as five or 10 miles from the storm.” Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to mitigate the danger that being outside during a thunderstorm poses. The only way to remain completely safe is to go inside — either a safe building or vehicle.
Entirely too often people wait far longer than they should to get to a safe place inside and these sluggish reactions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S. Due to how often lightning strikes in the U.S., it is unreasonable to expect the National Weather Service will offer a warning with every flash — so they don’t.
If the National Weather Service won’t supply warnings, how can you expect to remain safe while enjoying the great outdoors? Until recently there wasn’t a device on the market that detected both weather and lightning in one, but that has changed with the INO Weather Pro.
INO Weather Pro is the only device that combines traditional weather measurements with lightning detection to help you make important decisions that can keep you safe outside. With the innovative INO Weather Pro, you’re able to get accurate weather information delivered to the palm of your hand, in real time, right where you are.
The lightweight, rugged device features a number of attributes aimed at keeping you informed about what is going on outside and can help you monitor the weather no matter where adventure takes you. The INO Weather Pro’s sensors are able to measure temperature, humidity, barometric pressure as well as providing visual and auditory feedback of lightning strike distances up to 40 miles. In addition, from the other readings, the device is able to measure altitude, heat index and dew point.
The myriad capabilities that the INO Weather Pro offers are beneficial to anyone that spends time outdoors hiking, biking, boating, fishing, hunting or camping. The convenient, water-resistant device is easy to use and will allow you to have more fun (safely!) outside. With the ability to monitor for approaching inclement weather, outdoor enthusiasts are able to make educated decisions about how long to stay outside, whether to seek shelter, what meteorologic changes may be on the horizon and much more.
Source: National Lightning Safety Institute
Though no place is absolutely safe from lightning, some places are safer than others. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately.
If caught outside:
· Seek shelter in a large enclosed building (not a picnic shelter or shed)
· Another safe location is an enclosed metal vehicle, car, truck, or van (but not a convertible, bike, or other topless or soft top vehicle). Remain in the vehicle for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder
· Don’t touch the metal of the vehicle if struck
· Do NOT seek shelter under partially enclosed buildings
· Stay away from tall isolated objects (like trees)
· Stay away from all water sources (pools, hot tubs, water/feeding troughs)
· Stay off porches
· Do not go into dog houses (or let your pets go in their dog house)
· Pets chained to trees or any sort of metal can easily fall victim to a lightning strike
· Lightning is likely to strike the tallest objects in a given area – you should not be the tallest object
· If you are on an open field and there are no structures or vehicles nearby, lay down as flat as you can in the lowest spot you can find (a ravine or earth indentation for example)
· Avoid isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell phone towers, cranes, large equipment, ladders, scaffolding, or rooftops
· Retreat to dense areas of smaller trees that are surrounded by taller trees, or retreat to low-lying areas (valleys, ditches) but watch for flooding
If you are indoors:
· Inside of buildings, stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity
· Stay away from plumbing (it probably is holding water which conducts)
· Stay away from windows and doors. Metal windows and door frames are lightning conductors and pose a threat
“During our trip into the Superstitions the INO Weather Pro worked flawlessly. With no cellular service or network connectivity to rely on, the INO Weather Pro provided accurate real-time weather temperature and changes to the conditions.”
Read more of Digital Trends review on the INO Weather Pro!
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