Lightning is a common occurrence this time of year as thunderstorms roll through, and sadly injuries and even deaths occur all too often.
Pinellas County residents and guests were reminded of the dangers in two separate incidents that occurred recently.
An adult male suffered injuries when he was struck by lightning Aug. 13 in Safety Harbor. Clearwater Fire & Rescue was called to a residence on Fifth Street North just before 7 p.m. The man had been working in his yard when an indirect hit struck him. He was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital as a precaution.
The day before, Aug. 12, multiple units from the St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue responded to Tradewinds Island Grand Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd. where a 16-year-old girl was struck by lightning behind the resort.
When first responders arrived, staff from the Tradewinds had moved the girl indoors and provided CPR with assistance from Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies.
A second victim, a 60-year-old man, who was in close proximity to the strike, received attention from another unit from St. Pete Fire Rescue. His injuries were determined to be non-life threatening.
Both victims were transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.
In a press release, Fire Marshal Kelly Intzes said there is no safe place outdoors when a thunderstorm is in the area.
“When you hear thunder, seek cover as quickly as possible in either a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle and remain there for at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder,” he said.
“We have many visitors to our area and residents who aren’t aware of the dangers of our storms,” added St. Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson. “The storm’s natural beauty can be deceiving. When it comes to thunder and lightning, no storm is ‘just a small one.’ Always err on the side of caution.”
Seven lightning fatalities have been reported in the United States as of Aug. 13, according to the National Lightning Safety Council. The most recent was a 13-year-old boy struck by lightning on the beach in the Bronx, New York on Aug. 12. At least five others were struck and taken to the hospital.
Beach activities attribute to the second most fatalities due to lightning each year. Since 2006, beach activities have led to 29 fatalities including four so far this year.
Two deaths from lightning have been reported in Florida. Both involved beach activities. One was a 17-year-old male in Marco Island on July 17, and the second was a 41-year-old in Sanibel Island on July 24.