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Tampa, Florida, U.S.A - City mayor, Bob Buckhorn is declaring from June 24th to June 30th , 2012, Lightning Safety Awareness Week, noting that education is the key to understanding lightning’s dangers. Lightning safety advocates from the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and other partnering organizations joined Mayor, Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Fire and Rescue Chief, Thomas Forward for a press conference at the Tampa Firefighter’s Museum at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 21st to kick-off Lightning Safety Awareness Week and share educational resources. Dave Andreychuk of Tampa Bay Lightning was on hand at the event to help introduce a newly-produced, radio Public Service Announcement (PSA). The PSA will be used by the NWS to promote lightning safety to men ages 20-50, as 80% of lightning victims are typically male.
“People often underrate the dangers of lightning, yet it is a leading storm-related killer,” said Donna Franklin, director of the National Weather Service’s Lightning Safety Awareness Team. “Lack of awareness about what to do during a thunderstorm seems to be a common factor in many lightning injuries and deaths, which is why the National Weather Service launched the annual lightning safety campaign in 2001.”
“Tampa is known as the lightning capital of the country,” said Brian LaMarre, meteorologist-in-charge of the Tampa Bay area’s National Weather Service. According to the NWS, on average 54 people are killed by lightning every year in the United States. Unfortunately, Florida usually leads the count with ten deaths across an area known as “lightning alley” stretching across central Florida—focusing on theTampa Bay region.”Tampa averages almost three million potentially deadly flashes each year—so lightning is a concern for us in terms of personal safety and property loss,” explained LaMarre.
“Lightning safety week is a perfect time to remind the fire prevention community and first-responders about the dangers of lightning and provide the public with information to help protect families and property,” saidBud VanSickle, LPI executive director. “Collaboration with like-minded partners, including those participating in our 2012 Tampa kick-off event, helps us align existing efforts and pool our expert resources accordingly, to better address lightning safety needs.”
The collaboration is part of LPI’s educational initiative to remind the public and the fire safety community about the dangers of lightning, an underrated and often forgotten weather hazard. LPI recently partnered with the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA) launch a lightning safety initiative to provide educational resources for outdoor recreational facilities. The “Safer Design for Safer Play” initiative dovetails with new efforts by the National Weather Service to promote greater lightning safety at outdoor venues.