Who Gets Zapped the Most by lightning? Anglers.


There’s an old joke involving three golfers who get stuck on the course during a lightning storm.  Two of the golfers make a mad dash for the clubhouse, while golfer number three pulls a club out of his bag, and lazily waves it above his head as he saunters behind the others.  His playing partners think he’s nuts (obviously) and they shout back through the torrent to find out what the heck he’s doing.

“Even God can’t hit a one-iron,” he says.

Admittedly, that’s making light of a serious situation:  Lightning strikes kill dozens of outdoor enthusiasts every year.  What you might not know is that anglers actually account for the most fatailities—more than three times more than golfers.

That’s probably due in part to the fact that a 9-foot graphite stick might be an even more perfect electrical conduit than a golf club.  But more likely is the fact that lightning education and outreach efforts by NOAA’s National Weather Service specifically focused on golfers have had a great impact on reducing fatalities among participants in that sport by 75 percent in the past 12 years.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is expanding its efforts to more aggressively target anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and this week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

As such, make a point to go over some lightning safety tips with your staff and your customers.  This is one category anglers should not want to lead in the future.

Here’s a recent press release from NOAA that includes some interesting facts and safety tips:

Of the 152 deaths associated with leisure activities, fishing is followed by camping (15 deaths), boating (14 deaths), soccer (12 deaths) and golf (8 deaths). The remaining 77 people were struck by lightning while participating in a number of other leisure activities like enjoying the beach, swimming, walking and running, cheap xanax internet riding recreational vehicles, and picnicking or relaxing in their yard. Between 2006 and 2012, 82 percent of people killed by lightning were male.
“When people think of lightning deaths, they usually think of golf,” Jensenius said. “While every outdoor activity is dangerous when a thunderstorm is in the area, outdoor activities other than golf lead to more lightning deaths. NOAA has made a concerted effort to raise lightning awareness in the golf community since we began the campaign in 2001, and we believe our outreach has made a huge difference since lightning-related deaths on golf courses have decreased by 75 percent.”
Jensenius said the large number of fishing, camping and boating lightning deaths may occur because these activities require extra time to get to a safe place. “People often wait far too long to head to safety when a storm is approaching, and that puts them in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation,” he said.
Prior to the lightning safety campaign, lightning killed an average of 73 people each year in the United States. Since the National Weather Service launched the campaign, the average has dropped to 37. Seven people have died from lightning strikes so far this year.
The best way for people to protect themselves against lightning injury or death is to monitor the weather and postpone or cancel outdoor activities when thunderstorms are in the forecast. Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, so if people can hear thunder, they are in danger of being struck by lightning. The only safe places to be during a thunderstorm are in a building with four walls and a roof or in a car. A hut, cabana, tent, or other rain shelter will not protect a person from being struck by lightning.

Lightning Deaths – Statistics
Study on Lightning Death Statistics/Demographics
Lightning Safety Tips


1 Comment

  1. Barry Kustin on

    I have always said, “waving a graphite rod is an invitation to a shocking conclusion in a thunderstorm.” Cane rods do not conduct electricity.

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