June 24-30 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, an annual campaign to protect people from the deadly force behind thunderstorms' namesake noise. Lightning killed about 35 people in the U.S. per year from 2006 to 2011, and it has killed at least four so far in 2012. Worldwide, it kills an estimated 2,000 people every year.
While lightning doesn't have an off-season, the National Weather Service focuses its safety efforts in summer because that's when problems tend to surge. Warm weather not only helps spawn thunderstorms, but it also draws people outside — setting the stage for a seasonal spike in lightning-related injuries and deaths.
Most U.S. lightning deaths occur during outdoor leisure activities, from camping and fishing to golfing and swimming. Anyone can be hit — even in the same place twice, despite a common myth — but the odds aren't equal. More than 80 percent of U.S. lightning victims are men, a stat experts attribute more to behavioral patterns than genetics. Most lightning is avoidable if you heed its warnings, a fact highlighted by the NWS slogan for this week: "When thunder roars, go indoors."
For more advice on how to stay safe this summer, and all year long, here are seven useful tips in honor of Lightning Safety Awareness Week:
List and captions courtesy of Mother Nature Network