I LOVE watching storms, and taking photographs of them. I love watching the lightning, even though I often wonder if I am about to get zapped, looking around to see what might get hit first. The other day, I went out to shoot this storm, saw lots of cool lightning, got out of my car, took quick shots, got back in, and drove around looking for other good spots. One of the best spots for seeing the sky involves being on top of the Dam at the Reservoir, way high up, along a long metal fence. I sometimes will wait until storms have passed to go out there as it is a bit of a walk. I didn’t go out there at all this day, the lightning was really close and all around. So, I drove down to the beach on the reservoir to see if there was a good view I could shoot from my car. What do I see??? PEOPLE SWIMMING! Swimming in the water with lightning so close I don’t even want to exit my car. There were about 6 or 7 people ranging from seniors to youths. This does not look like a good idea to me, but it got me thinking about how safe am I? What do I really know about lightning? I know to get out of a pool during a storm. I saw people going out on a lake in their boats with a lightning storm fast approaching. That didn’t seem too bright to me, but I went about my business. I decided to do a little lightning safety research, and subsequently saw a story about a 9-year-old getting killed by lightning that very day when their group tried to take cover from a fast approaching storm on Lake Superior and they headed their boat to shore and as they were leaving the boat lightning struck, he dies, and 4 other people had to go to the hospital. His brother who was 7 was ok, because he had already made the shore out of the water. I won’t go into all the safety details about lightning, but it is one unpredictable force of nature. The saying is: When thunder roars, go indoors. Or a car (with windows shut). If you are outside, and can’t get to a car or enclosed building, keep your feet together, get low, no closer than 15 feet to other people. Then wait 30 minutes to even go outside after a storm has passed. You shouldn’t use any water or wired phone or electrical things in your home during a lightning storm. So I guess my sitting in my car with windows down or getting out for a minute to take photos is not the safest thing to do. Some of these things do not seem very practical. But at least I am a bit more knowledgable about lightning. I know it can zap me out of the clear blue sky on a beautiful sunny day. But even if I am knowingly living dangerously taking photos during a storm, I am still much safer than driving to the grocery store. 1.2 million or so people worldwide die in auto accidents vs 24,000 by lightning. And of those, only about 50 people die by lightning in the US per year. So, I got that going for me.
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