Lightning Procedure

Chatham Recreation – PROCEDURE in the event of lightning

Termination, or temporary suspension of an activity, must always take place when an electrical storm is imminent. The decision to terminate or suspend a game/meet/event when an electrical storm is imminent may be made by either the host club/activity, coach or official. A chain of command and designated decision-maker should be established for each organized practice and competition.


Coaches, athletes and administrators should be educated regarding the signs indicating thunderstorm development. Since the average distance between successive lightning flashes is approximately 2-3 miles, any time that lightning can be seen or thunder heard, the risk is already present.

*Weather can be monitored using the following methods:
Monitor Weather Patterns – Be aware of potential thunderstorms by monitoring local weather forecasts the day before and morning of the practice or competition, and by scanning the sky for signs of potential thunderstorm activity.

* National Weather Service (NWS) – Weather can also be monitored using small, portable weather radios from the NWS. The NWS uses a system of severe storm watches and warnings. A watch indicates conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop in an area; a warning indicates severe weather has been reported in an area and for everyone to take proper precautions.

* There are many applications available on mobile phones.


* Evacuation – Thirty-minute rule – At the first indication of visible lightning (or thunder heard) the threat is immediate and athletes/coaches/etc. must be removed from the playing field to a safe shelter/structure. After the initial suspension you must wait at least 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning is witnessed or thunder is heard. Any subsequent lightning or thunder after any 30-minute count will reset the clock and another count should begin.

* When one activity is suspended on a site due to thunder being heard and/or lightning being observed, all activities on that site will be suspended.

Evacuation Plan

Coaches should have a plan, in the event of a storm, of where they would evacuate based on the facility they are located. Most outdoor facilities do not have structures/shelters. The person in authority must be aware of the amount of time it takes to get to a structure/shelter and the number of persons each structure/shelter can safely hold

Safe Structures: The most ideal structure is a fully enclosed, substantial building with plumbing, electrical wiring and telephone service, which aids in grounding the structure. A fully enclosed automobile with a hard metal roof and rolled up windows is also a reasonable choice. School buses are an excellent lightning shelter that can be utilized for large groups of people. However, it is important to avoid contact with any metal while inside the vehicle.
Avoid using shower facilities for safe shelter and do not use showers or plumbing facilities during a thunderstorm as the current from a local lightning strike can enter the building via the plumbing pipelines or electrical connections. It is also
considered unsafe to stand near utilities, use corded telephones or headsets during a thunderstorm, due to the danger of electrical current traveling through the telephone line. Cellular and cordless telephones are considered reasonably safe and
can be used to summon help during a thunderstorm.

When caught in a thunderstorm without availability or time to reach safe structures/shelters, you can minimize the risk of lightning related injury by following a few basic guidelines:

* Avoid being the highest object. Seek a thick grove of small trees or bushes surrounded by taller trees or a dry ditch.

* Avoid contact with anything that would attract lightning. Stay away from free-standing trees, poles, antennas, towers, bleachers, baseball dugouts, metal fences, standing pools of water and golf carts.

* Crouch down with legs together, the weight on the balls of the feet, arms wrapped around knees, and head down with ears covered.

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