Stay safe in the stormy season

With spring upon us and summer soon to follow, the inevitable Highveld thunderstorms are a reality not to be dealt with lightly. As summer drew to a close earlier this year, there were various news reports of people struck by lightning in parts of Johannesburg. In fact, according to the South African weather service, more than 260 people are killed by lightning in the country each year.

Mike Kidson, Managing Director of ADT Northern Region, warns that people tend not to realise the danger of a thunderstorm. “Did you know that if you can hear thunder, you’re already within striking range of a storm and should seek shelter immediately? In fact, even lightning as far as 20km away is dangerous. That’s why when you see a storm approaching you need to get indoors. It doesn’t even need to be a severe storm and there doesn’t necessarily have to be rainfall either for lightning to strike,” he points out.

Kidson offers the following tips for staying safe during a thunderstorm:

  • Avoid flat, open areas. Lightning will usually hit the highest point so when you’re in an open space, there’s a higher risk of being hit as you’ll be the highest point.
  • Stay away from water and don’t swim during a storm.
  • Don’t take shelter under trees during storms. But if you’ve got no choice, rather take shelter under a group of shorter trees among larger trees. A thick forest is always a better option than a solitary tree or a small group of trees.
  • Be aware that buildings with exposed openings such as camping shelters or pavilions are not safe.
  • When in a storm, stay away from all forms of metal. Golfers should be aware that the metal in their golf clubs could act as lightning conductors.

Storm season also puts security companies under pressure as storms play havoc with alarm systems. The high number of signals that control rooms receive during a storm can lead to delayed response times not to mention dilute critical emergency resources. In order to cope with this deluge of activity, monitoring centres have no option but to prioritise all signals that are received. Phone-in, Duress, silent panics and general panic signals are prioritised in that order, followed by fire, alarm and mains failure.

“To help reduce unnecessary call outs, please contact the monitoring centre to cancel your alarm activation should your alarm go off unnecessarily during a storm.

However if you should experience an emergency during stormy conditions, please contact the monitoring centre directly by telephone or if this isn’t possible, by activating your panic button,” says Kidson.

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Compiled on behalf of ADT by Cathy Findley Public Relations