Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Strike Back against Lightning: NATA Issues Safety Policy Guidelines

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Strike Back against Lightning: NATA Issues Safety Policy Guidelines

Article excerpt

Each year in the United States, more than 400 people are struck by lightning. On average, 42 of those strikes prove fatal. Of importance to park and recreation professionals is that nearly half of these fatalities occur during organized sports or recreational activities.

To help reduce these fatalities, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) recently published a lightning safety position statement for coaches, athletic trainers, parents, administrators and others involved in athletic or recreational activities.

"All individuals, particularly those who are in charge of sports and recreational activities, should be aware of the hazards, establish and follow appropriate guidelines, and ensure that those around them do so as well," says Katie Walsh, Ed.D., ATC, East Carolina University, who chaired the position statement writing group for NATA.

The four NATA recommendations are:

1 Establish a lightning-specific emergency action plan for each venue

NATA recommends that each venue use a reliable means of monitoring the local weather and have a clear and understood decisionmaking chain of command. In addition, each venue should identify specific criteria for suspending and resuming outdoor activities. The prevailing norm is to suspend activities until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or sound of thunder.

2 Ensure lightning and general weather awareness

This can be done by appointing a designated weather watcher or by subscribing to a commercial, real-time lightning-detection service. …

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