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Lightning Kills

By: Robert G. Hester
Two Harnett residents have been killed after being struck by lightning.  One near Spring Lake, another in a Durham parking lot.
 
Lightning Safety Awareness Week kicks off in June, however, people die year round after being struck by lightning.  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.
 
NOAA’s National Weather Service has discovered that 64 percent of lightning deaths since 2006 occurred while people were participating in leisure activities, with fishing topping the list at 26 deaths.
 
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 leisure activities like enjoying the beach, swimming, walking and running, riding recreational vehicles, picnicking or relaxing in their yard.  Between 2006 and 2012, 82 percent of people killed by lightning were male.
 
The worst place to be in a lightning storm is in a boat, surrounded by water.  The deadliest days are Saturday and Sunday.
 
Lightning fatalities in North Carolina from 1959 to 2013 total 194.
 
The two most recent deaths due to lightning occurred on Thursday and both were Harnett County residents.
 
Steve Byran was waiting for his girlfriend in a mall parking lot in Cary.  About the same time, Frankie Roberts was taking her dogs out for a bathroom trip at her home in Harnett County.
 
Bryan and Roberts lived about 40 miles apart.
 
The National Safety Council says the odds of dying by a lightning strike any given year are about 1 in 5.5 million.  http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/
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