Staying Safe in a Lightning Storm

Southwest Florida is not without it’s own drawbacks. We all experience this firsthand in the summer months and in Florida, you grow accustom to intense storms. Lightning flashes. Grumbling thunder. It all becomes almost comfortingly familiar when you’re safe inside of your own home. But what happens if you get caught in a storm while on the golf course?

According to the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 5 percent of all lightning deaths and injuries in the United States occur on the golf course.

With flash storms as common as they are, it’s imperative that you know what to do in a lightning storm and minimize your risk and the risks of those around you. 

Know the Signs

The best way to stay safe during a lightning storm is to avoid them. That means heading indoors when you hear thunder. We understand that it’s not ideal, but safety is anything but an inconvenience.

Sports medicine journalist Elizabeth Quinn of Very Well says all outdoors enthusiasts, including golfers, need to know the “30/30 Lightning Rule”:

“If thunderstorms develop, count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the bang of the thunder to estimate the distance between you and the lightning strike. Because sound travels at approximately 1 mile in 5 seconds, you can determine how far away the lightning is by using this ‘flash-to-bang’ method. It is recommended that you seek shelter if the time between the lightning flash and the rumble of thunder is 30 seconds or less (6 miles). Once inside shelter, you should not resume activities until 30 minutes after the last audible thunder.”

If a storm is imminent and you see those dark storm clouds rolling in, seek shelters and avoid open areas, water, tall trees, metal fences, overhead wires and power lines, cell phone, and golf carts.

Yes, this is among the only time we will advise customers to avoid golf carts. Regardless of whether you own an electrical or gas cart, golf carts are conductors by nature. If a storm is brewing, your cart could become incredibly dangerous.

What to Do When Caught in a Lightning Storm

In a perfect world, you would never get caught in a lightning storm. Unfortunately, we don’t lie in a perfect world. There may come a time or situation when the storm rolls in too fast or you’re too far from shelter. If you absolutely cannot get to a safe space, seek dense woods or low lying areas. Move away from your golf cart and clubs, remove the spikes from your shoes if they’re metal, and aim for low ground. 

If you feel a tingling sensation and the hair on your arms stands up, squat with your feet together and hold your arms in front of your knees. Keep at least fifteen feet away from other people. This will help lower your chances of being struck by lightning.

Know the science behind the strike with these lightning facts.

  • Light travels faster than sound, so thunder follows after lightning. When you see lightning and hear thunder at the same time, that lightning is in your neighborhood
  • Lightning is either negative or positive. Negative lightning is formed low in the thunderstorm cloud while positive lightning is formed in the tope of the thunder storm
  • Positive lightning is particularly dangerous, because it can strike as far as 5 or 10 miles from the storm
  • If you hear thunder, you are within 10 miles of a storm

Questions About Golf Carts and Golf Cart Safety?

There’s no place like southwest Florida. A few months of moisture are incomparable to a year of sunny days and year-round warm weather. 

If you would like to know more about how golf carts can enhance your Florida experience on those bright, sunny days, come talk to our friendly staff at our Gator Golf Showrooms located in Naples and Fort Myers. We’ll be happy to discuss your golf cart future and address any concerns you may have. Have fun, make memories, and, above all, stay safe!