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Lightning Policies & Procedures

Woodside Priory School
Department of Athletics


Lightning Safety Guidelines
November 2004 (updated 9/05, 10/06)
Lightning is the most consistent weather hazard that may affect athletic events. While practice and training increase recreation performance, preparedness can reduce the risk of the lightning hazard. Prevention and education are the keys to lightning safety. The following guidelines are in place at Woodside Priory School (WPS) in order to protect our student-athletes.


Chain of Command / Responsibility for Removing Athletes-
The responsibility for removing athletes from the practice/game area lies with the head coach of the particular sport.
* If the head coach is not present, an assistant coach will assume responsibility.
* A WPS athletic trainer and/or a SJSU intern athletic trainer will advise the head coach and/or his/her designee.
Any dispute on the suspension of practice/ competition should be directed to Mark Stogner, the WPS Athletic Director, or Doug Sargent, the Middle School Athletic Director.

Criteria For Evacuation of the Practice/Game Area-
The policy of the Woodside Priory School Department of Athletic Training will be as follows:
The WPS staff and/or intern athletic trainer will inform the visiting team's athletic trainer and/or coach and game / event officials of WPS's policy with regards to lightning during pre-game warm-ups;
The WPS staff and/or intern athletic trainer will monitor the storm, will watch for lightning and listen for thunder, and will be responsible for keeping track of the flash / bang count**;
When the flash/bang count reaches 40 seconds or less the WPS staff athletic trainer will notify the following persons-
* The head coach and/or his/her designee;
* The visiting team's athletic trainer and/or coach (if applicable)
* The game official (at a break in the action);
At this point, all game / practice activities are to cease immediately, and ALL personnel are to evacuate to a safe structure or location.

Safe Structure-
A safe structure or location is defined as-any sturdy, fully enclosed, substantial, and frequently inhabited building that has plumbing and/or electrical wiring that acts to electrically ground the structure
In the absence of a safe structure as described above, a secondary structure such as a fully enclosed vehicle with a hard metal roof, rubber tires, and completely closed windows can provide a measure of safety. Persons should not touch the sides of the vehicle!
Persons should avoid taking showers and using plumbing facilities and land-line telephones during a thunderstorm.
If no safe structure or location is within a reasonable distance, personnel should find a thick grove of small trees surrounded by taller trees or a dry ditch. Everyone should assume the lightning-safe position- a crouched position on the ground with the feet together, weight on the balls of the feet, head lowered, and ears covered. DO NOT LIE FLAT! Minimize the body trade;s surface area and minimize contact with the ground.
If unable to reach safe shelter, persons should stay away from the tallest trees or objects, metal objects, individual trees, standing pools of water, and open fields. Persons should avoid being the highest object in an open field.
In situations where thunder and/or lightning may or may not be present, yet someone feels his/her hair stand on end and skin tingle, LIGHTNING IS IMMINENT! Therefore, all persons should assume the lightning-safe position as described above.
A cellular phone is a safe alternative to land-line phones, if the person and the antenna are located within a safe structure or location, and if all other precautions are followed.
All individuals should have the right to leave a site or activity, without fear of repercussion or penalty, in order to seek a safe structure or location if they feel that they are in danger from impending lightning activity.

Criteria For Safe Return to the Practice/Game Area-
Personnel should not return to the practice/game area until thirty (30) minutes have passed since the last lightning flash or the last sound of thunder. Each time lightning is observed and/or thunder is heard, the 30-minute clock is to be reset.
Blue skies in the local area and/or a lack of rainfall are not adequate reasons to breach the 30-minute return-to-play rule. Lightning can strike up to ten (10) miles away from the rainshaft of a storm.

Prehospital Care of Victims of a Lightning Strike-
Because lightning-strike victims do not remain connected to a power source, they do not carry an electric charge. Therefore, it is safe to touch the victim to move him/her to a safe location and to render medical treatment.
During an ongoing thunderstorm, lightning activity in the local area still poses a deadly hazard for personnel responding to the victim. Personnel should consider his/ her own personal safety before venturing into a dangerous situation to render care.
The first priority of personnel is to move the lightning strike victim to a safe location.
Prompt, aggressive CPR has been highly effective for the survival of victims of lightning strikes. Therefore, it is critical that CPR and AED use is initiated as soon as safely possible.
Lightning strike victims should be evaluated and treated for hypothermia, shock, fractures, and burns as well.

The Flash / Bang Method-
This is a simple method used to estimate how far away a lightning flash is:
Begin timing (in seconds) as soon as a lightning flash is seen; stop timing as soon as a thunder sound is heard after the lightning flash. This number is the flash/bang count. Divide the flash/bang count by five (5) the resulting number is the distance, in miles, from the practice/game area to the lightning flash.
References:
Nation Collegiate Athletic Association. (2003). Guideline 1D: Lightning Safety. NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook, 12-14.
National Lightning Safety Institute. Available at:
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/ncaa.cfm
Walsh, K.M. et. al (2001). National Athletic Trainer's Association Position Statement: Lightning Safety for Athletics & Recreation. Journal of Athletic Training, 35, 471-477.