Tennessee farmer survives lightning strike during Mother’s Day storms

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DYER, Tenn. — Severe Mother’s Day storms may serve as a reminder to interrupt or cancel outdoor activities, but what if your job depends on the work, no matter the weather?

A Dyer, Tennessee, farmer found out first hand Sunday morning, during a thunderstorm, while tending to outdoor chores.

“Lightning was popping all around us,” says severe storm spotter J. Callahan. “I think he will be alright.”

But, according to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), home to the National Weather Service, there are millions of lightning strikes every year, and though the odds of getting hit are low, they are high enough that the risk must be taken seriously.

Lightning is more deadly than hurricanes or tornadoes, killing an average of 73 people and injuring 300 others annually in the United States.

The challenge to farmers is that agricultural work must be done during a variety of weather conditions. Farm work doesn’t stop just because the weather forecast calls for rain or thunderstorms.

Yet, the key to keeping family, employees, (and yourself!) safe is knowing when to interrupt or cancel farm activities and having a plan to protect people from injury or death when thunderstorms threaten.

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area! If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Adhere to the slogan: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.

Some safety organizations promote the “30-30 rule.” If the time delay between seeing the flash of lightning and hearing the bang of thunder is less than 30 seconds, you should already be moving toward shelter. To be safe, outdoor activities should cease a half hour before and after a thunderstorm, since lightning can strike 30 minutes before or after a visible storm.

Since we are in the spring severe weather season, sports, farming, and a lot of social activities will continue to be held outside. Have a lightning safety plan if attending an upcoming outdoor event.

This should include: canceling or postponing outdoor activities early if thunderstorms are expected, and why not download the News Channel 3 Weather App for instant weather updates, watches and warnings.

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