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The lightning season is here, and residents and visitors to the state need to be cautious, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Alder warned.

"Lightning still ranks as Utah's No. 1 weather-related killer. Last year, two people lost their lives due to lightning and six were injured," Alder said.Since 1954, 40 people, or an average of one person a year, have been killed by lightning in Utah. In that same period, 93 people have been injured by lightning, Alder said.

Gov. Mike Leavitt declared the week that started June 19 as Lightning Awareness Week, and he encourages people to become in-formed on the dangers associated with lightning so they can have a "safe and enjoyable" sum-mer.

On a positive note, Alder says the latest U.S. statistics show a marked decrease in the number of lightning fatalities. Forty-three people lost their lives in lightning strikes last year. That figure was well below the 30-year average of 95.

The decrease in deaths is even more remarkable, Alder said, "if you go back to the '50s when the average during that period was 185 lightning-related deaths. Perhaps the populace is becoming more lightning smart."

Utah figures show more than half the lightning deaths occur during July and August, with some fatalities occurring as late as October or as early as April.

San Juan is the leader among Utah counties with six fatalities since 1954. A 12-year-old boy died last year on Thousand Lake Mountains outside of Bicknell, Wayne County. Another person died last September during the bow-hunting deer season near Blanding.

Lightning hit and slightly injured two highway workers during the past month in the Snyderville Basin area north of Park City.


Additional Information

Rules to follow during storms

Here's some basic information and a few safety rules to keep in mind about lightning:

Lightning usually strikes the tallest object in an area. Don't go outdoors during a lightning storm. When indoors, do not use plug-in electrical appliances such as hair dryers, toothbrushes or razors. Do not use the telephone.

If you're outside and can't reach a safe building or an automobile, stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes and rails, which could carry lightning charges from quite a distance.

In you're in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. Keep away from lone, tall trees. In open areas, go to a low place such a ravine or a valley but beware of flash floods. Large groups should separate into small groups.

A person isolated in a level field or prairie who feels their hair stand on end should drop to his knees, bending forward and putting his hands on his knees. He should not lie flat on the ground.

People struck by lightning receive a severe electrical shock and may be burned. But they carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely. A person who appears dead after a lighting strike can often be revived by prompt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, cardiac massage and prolonged artificial respiration.