Lightning Safety: Men Struck Many More Times Than Women

All six U.S. deaths this year were male and related to sports and outside jobs.

June 28, 2011 — -- Men, that last game of touch football is just not worth it during an approaching storm -- especially when you risk being hit by 200,000 to 300,000 volts of lightning.

Of 648 people killed by lightning in the United States from 1995 to 2008, 82 percent were male, according to This year, there have been six lightning-related deaths -- all male.

According to Popular Science magazine, recreational activities or sports are involved in almost half of all lightning-related deaths. Of this year's fatalities, one man was playing golf on a course in Shreveport, La., and another was playing baseball in an open field in Ruby, S.C.

"Men take more risks when it comes to lightning," said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist of the National Weather Service, "and men tend to have more outside jobs."

Jensenius said that men being struck by lightning more than women was a behavioral issue.

"Men don't wish to be inconvenienced by a nearby thunderstorm," he said. "Lightning safety is an inconvenience but at the same time, it's one you can live with."

He said the National Weather Service's Lightning Safety program works very hard to lower lightning fatalities every year. "It's all very sad," he said of the victims. "It's the same problem every year."

"It really doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, you need to be inside when there's a thunderstorm in the area."

Jensenius cautioned that July was the deadliest month in terms of lightning across the United States because of a peak in lightning activity and an increase in outdoor summertime activities.

July averages 18 lightning fatalities a year and Jensenius warned that July Fourth weekend is traditionally one of the most deadly.

He offered these tips on staying safe:

Don't wait. "If the sky is starting to look threatening, start going inside," he said. "If you're hearing thunder, you're in striking distance. Every thunderstorm has a first stroke of lightning."

Once inside, wait 30 minutes. "If you're outside and hear the distant rumbling of thunder, you should go inside and wait 30 minutes after last lightning."

Plan ahead. "Listen for forecasts. Consider postponing or canceling activities. Keep eye on the skies."

And when inside, be aware. Stay away from anything that could be electrified, such as plumbing and corded phones. And stay away from windows and doors.