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Lightning can strike without warning
Common for houses to be struck
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Weather forecast

Today: 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2 p.m. Mostly sunny, high near 93.

Tonight: 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 8 p.m. Partly cloudy, low around 71.

Sunday: 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8 a.m. Mostly sunny, high near 94.

Sunday night: 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 2 a.m. Partly cloudy, low around 72.


After lightning shows this past week and a weather forecast with plenty of thunderstorm chances ahead, emergency management officials are reminding residents not to underestimate the dangers of lightning.

"Here in Georgia, we are very susceptible to severe thunderstorms that bring lightning," said Lisa Janak, Georgia Emergency Management Agency's Ready Georgia Campaign spokeswoman. "Particularly in the summer, we get those pop-up storms."

About 100 people die from lightning strikes each year and Georgia accounted for the most fatalities in 2010, Janak said.

Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said lightning strikes can cause cardiac arrest and severe burns.

But despite the dangers, people often underestimate the risks.

"People just don't heed the warnings of severe thunderstorm watches," Cagle said. "It is very common to be struck by lightning way before the storm and way after the storm. People hear thunder off in the distance and they think they have extra time to finish cutting the grass or play one more hole of golf. That's when that lightning bolt comes out of nowhere."

But with a little preparation and a cautious attitude, Janak said the dangers can be minimized.

She recommended purchasing a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio, which alerts residents when conditions are getting dangerous.

Janak also said it's best to take cover inside. If outdoors, get away from tall objects and crouch down, if that's not an option.

"If you hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning. Just get inside the house and wait for the storm to pass," Cagle said. "The main thing is just pay attention to the weather, listen to a weather radio and know the forecast before you make your outdoor plans."

But even if you're inside, the danger isn't over.

According to Cagle, it's pretty common for houses to be struck by lightning. It can cause fires or power surges through the building's wiring.

"A lot of times (a house) is struck and it may just run in on the satellite or cable system," Cagle said.

"You may just have the smell of electric wires burning. If that happens and you have that smell, of course you need to call 911, get out of the house and wait for the fire department to investigate it."

Janak also recommended unplugging electronics, avoiding running water and staying off corded telephones during thunderstorms.