SPSU Sports Medicine will use the following methods to monitor lighting in accordance to the NATA recommendations regarding lightning safety:
I. Lightning Detector: In the case of inclement weather, the attending athletic trainer is to turn on the lightning detector and set it to tone, 3-8 miles. If the detector goes off, consistently within 1-2 minutes time, notify the Head Coach and Officials immediately to suspend play.
Flash-to-Bang Method: After a flash of lightning, count the seconds until the bang of thunder. Divide this number by 5. The product is an estimate of how many miles away the lightning is. (5 sec = 1 mile)
II. Chain of Command: In the event of a lightning storm, a member of the sports medicine staff will monitor the local weather with the utilization of the flash-to-bang method for determining proximity of lightning strikes and to suspend activity in the event of imminent lightning. In the event that a member of the sports medicine staff is not present during the storm, another qualified individual (i.e. member of Athletic Administration, Head Coach, and Officials) will suspend activity.
III. Suspending Activity: Once lighting enters the 30 mile radius of practice/competition, we will begin preparations to protect the student-athletes and spectators. Once lighting enters an 3-8 mile radius of practice/competition, all outside activities must stop and student-athletes and spectators will be moved to safe structures. 30 minute time frame begins at the last sight/sound of lightning/thunder and/or last flash within 3-8 miles on the lightning detector.
IV. Competition/Practice:Prior to competition or practice, a member of the athletic training staff will meet with the officials/coaches and offer to monitor imminent danger from lightning.
- Once it is determined there is danger of a lightning strike, the athletic trainer or athletic administrator will notify the head coach and official.
- The official/coach will subsequently summon athletes, coaches, and spectators off the playing field via a horn or whistle.
- During competitions, a message will be read over the public address system warning individuals of the danger and guiding them to the nearest safe structure.
V. Safe Structure: Immediately following suspension of play, all athletes, coaches, officials, and support personnel are to evacuate to an enclosed grounded structure.(example: locker room, lower level of center of parking deck or stairwell, grounded press box). If unable to reach shelter immediately, seek a flat area, (not an open area where you will be the highest object) or a ditch without water, and crouch down wrapping your arms around your knees, lower your head, and wait for the storm to pass.
- Due to conduction of electricity wearing metal spikes should remove shoes, and should not hold metal equipment (golf clubs, bats, etc.)
- A suitable shelter is any building normally occupied or frequently used by people (a building with pluming or electrical wiring that acts to electrically ground the structure.) Avoid using shower facilities and land-line telephones (in the case of an emergency use a cell phone) during thunderstorms.
- Automobiles, golf carts, dugouts, and open structures do not provide adequate protection from lightning. If there is no other shelter, you may seek refuge in a hardtop vehicle with windows rolled up. While inside of the vehicle do not touch any of the metal frame of that vehicle it is what dissipates the electrical charge, not the rubber tires.
- Sport Specific Evacuation Locations
- Soccer: evacuate to the garage, cars/buses, or locker room.
- Baseball: evacuate to locker room, press box, or batting cages
- Away contest: Athletic trainer or head coach should find out procedure from host athletic trainer and report back to the athletes and coaching staff.
VI. Resuming Activity: As stated above, lightning strikes will be determined with the utilization of the flash-to-bang method. Decision to return to play will be determined by a member of the sports medicine staff, athletic administrator, both home and away head coaches, and officials. Play may resume after 30 minutes have passed since the last lighting strike inside the 3-8 mile warning ring.
**Note: Individuals who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge; therefore CPR is safe for the responder. In the event that a person has been struck by lightning, follow the site emergency action plan.