Lightning Strikes Heighten Concern For Safety

A dazzling display of power at night, lightning is less visible during the daylight hours.

But it's during those daylight hours, when people are out and about, that lightning can single out individuals to strike.

"A beautiful clear blue day you can see a thunderstorm pop up within about 15 to 30 minutes it can be a full blown thunderstorm," says WLOX Meteorologist Carrie Duncan.

"The beach is a prime example of a place not to be when such storms are approaching.

"I keep an eye out and make sure nothing bad is coming up," says visitor David Lee of Mobile Alabama.

But the closeness of a storm can be deceptive.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from a storm cloud, and while nearly 90 percent of victims survive a strike, the damage it can do to a survivors health can last a lifetime.

"Dizziness, depression, memory loss, attention deficit disorder commonly known as ADD, sleep disorders as well," says Patrick Stiver, a Communications Supervisor with American Medical Response. "The lighting causes fractures, and could cause blindness."

Emergency responders say July and August are the prime months for them to respond to reported lightning strikes.

Unfortunately, those are also the prime months of the summer tourist season in South Mississippi.

A deadly combination that they say could be made a lot less deadly, if beach visitors will use just a little common sense.

"If you can't get indoors, get away from the water and the trees," says Stiver.

"If you can see it, much less if you can here thunder, you need to take shelter immediately," says Duncan.

Advice these vacationers take seriously.

"There's always a warning before it comes," says vacationer Adale Schexnayber of St. James Parish Louisiana. "So if you heed the warning, I'm sure that you can get safe."