County officials offer safety tips for lightning storms

FREEHOLD, NJ – As summer in central New Jersey continues, the cooler evening air often meets mid-day heat to cause powerful thunderstorms and Monmouth County officials caution residents to follow lightning safety precautions.

“Thunder and lightning storms happen all the time, but lightning strikes and lightning fires occur most often in the summer,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the County Fire Marshal’s Office. “Residents need to make sure that they know what to do to keep themselves and their families safe when the potential for lightning strikes occur.”

If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Look for shelter inside a home, large building, or a hard-topped vehicle right away. If you are in or on water, go to land and seek shelter immediately.

“Do not go under trees for shelter. There is no place that is safe outside during a thunderstorm,” said County Fire Marshal Henry Stryker III. “Wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder before leaving your shelter. If you are inside, avoid windows and doors.”

“While indoors, unplug any appliances and other electrical items, like computers, and turn off air conditioners,” Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “If you are unable to unplug them, turn them off and stay off corded phones, computers and other electronic equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity.”

If you are outdoors and feel your hair stand on end, that means lightning is about to strike. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet and place your hands over your ears and put your head in between your knees.

“Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. Do not lie flat on the ground,” added Stryker. “This is the last resort when a building or hard-topped vehicle is not available.”

“If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 and get medical care immediately,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, who is also a member of the Holmdel EMS. “Attend to victims immediately. Check their breathing, heartbeat and pulse and administer CPR if needed.”