From 2006 through 2012, 238 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States. Almost two thirds of the deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities.
The common belief that golfers are responsible for the greatest number of lightning deaths was shown to be a myth.
During this 7-year period, fishermen accounted for more than three times as many fatalities as golfers, while camping and boating each accounted for almost twice as many deaths as golf.
From 2006 to 2012, there were a total of 26 fishing deaths, 15 camping deaths, 14 boating deaths, and 11 beach deaths.
Of competitive sports activities, soccer saw the greatest number of deaths with 12, as compared to golf with 8.
Around the home, yard work (including mowing the lawn) accounted for 12 fatalities.
For work – related activities, ranching/farming topped the list with 11 deaths.
Males accounted for 82% of all fatalities, and more than 90% of the deaths in the fishing and sports categories.
Females had comparatively fewer deaths than men in every category, with their highest percentages in boating-related activities (35%) and routine daily/weekly activities (35%).
June, July, and August are the peak months for lightning activity across the United States, and the peak months for outdoor summer activities. As a result, about 70% of the lightning deaths occurred in the months of June, July, and August, with Saturday and Sunday having slightly more deaths than other days of the week.
Ages of the victims varied from young children to older adults, with the greatest number of fatalities between the ages of 10 and 60. Within that age range, there were fewer deaths for people in their 30s, possibly due to parents of young children being less involved in vulnerable activities.
Based on media reports of the fatal incidents, many victims were headed to safety at the time of the fatal strike or just steps away from safety.
Continued efforts are needed to convince people to get inside a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant.
For many activities, situational awareness and proper planning are essential to safety.
Source: National Weather Service (NOAA)