Emergency crews warn of lightning dangers

Lightning is the third-largest killer among severe weather events

COLUMBIA, Mo. - With more storms moving into Mid-Missouri, it also brings more of a lightning risk.

Emergency crews said lightning is the third-largest killer among severe weather events. Around 54 people are killed each year after being hit by lightning. Before the storms, officials are stressing people know dangers.

"Lightning it really, really frightens me because we have had lightning strike close to us," said Mary Ellen Wolf.

For Wolf, the fear of getting hit by lightning was once almost a reality many years ago. "It struck the dish washer, and I was about three feet from the dish washer, so it really puts the fear of god in you," said Wolf.

Now years later she's still extremely cautious, however firefighters said most people aren't as aware as they should be.

"I think people think well it will never happen to me," said James Weaver with the Columbia Fire Department.

Gale Blomenkamp with the Boone County Fire Department said many people don't take lightning as seriously as they should.

"If you can hear thunder, you are in striking range of a lightning bolt," said Blomenkamp.

Hundreds of people within that striking range are hurt each year. In 2011, three people in Missouri were among those electrocuted.

So, how can you stay safe from something so deadly?

"Have a plan in place, if severe weather does approach me where am I going to go? And where's my safe spot?" said Blomenkamp.

Being in a building is best, but cars with hard tops are also safe. However, once you're inside you're not always in the clear.

"Don't be around the plumbing, don't be in the shower, don't be using water," said Weaver.

Also stay off your phone and computer, or anything else plugged into your house.

"People need to understand if I am tied into this electrical outlet a lightning bolt could travel through that and I could feel the effects of that," said Blomenkamp.

That's something Wolf will never forget, and hope others pay attention too.

"I think it's worth while to be careful," said Wolf.

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