Thunderstorms can occur at any time of year and can also bring heavy rain, sudden gusty winds, standing water and lightning. This guidance is designed to help keep participants safe in case the weather is unsuitable.
Lightning strikes the ground in Britain about 300,000 times a year.30-60 people are struck by lightning each year in Britain, and on average, 3 (5-10%) of these strikes are fatal.
- Regularly check weather forecasts in the lead up to any event, match or training session
- Consider any contingency plans, for example, changing the time of the event to suit weather conditions or moving activities indoors
- Decide who has the final decision as to whether or not an activity of event can go ahead (e.g. club committee, coach, referee)
- If there is a storm risk, identify an indoor space where people can shelter if necessary
Cancellation - Ultimately, the safety and welfare of participants is the priority
Bear in mind that people could be travelling some distance to attend – the earlier an event is cancelled or a warning issued that there is potential for cancellation, the better.
During the event
Be aware that, despite, the best intentions, an event may be interrupted by bad weather. Be decisive and remind everyone that participant welfare is the key priority.
If there is a risk of an event being cut short, ensure that parents of young participants are contactable or remain on site in case of an early exit.
In the event of thunder and lightning, or extreme winds and rain, outside activity should stop immediately and everyone moved to a safe space.
During a Thunderstorm
- If you hear thunder while you are outside, get inside as quickly as possible. Seek shelter inside a large building or motor vehicle keeping away from, and getting out of wide, open spaces and exposed hilltops.
- The inside of a car is a safe place to be in a storm, lightning will spread over the metal of the vehicle before earthing to the ground through the tyres
- Be aware of metal objects that can conduct or attract lightning, e.g. umbrellas, metal perimeter fencing
- Do not shelter beneath tall or isolated trees, it has been estimated that one in four people struck by lightning are sheltering under trees
- If you find yourself in an exposed location, it may be advisable to squat close to the ground, keep your heels together, with your hands over your ears/head and with your head tucked down towards your knees. Basically, try to touch as little of the ground with your body as possible. Do not lie down on the ground. If you feel your hair stand on end, drop to this position immediately.
In case of emergency
If someone is hit by lightning, call the emergency services – they will need help as soon as possible. If you know first aid, apply it – you will not receive an electric shock. A lightning strike is not usually instantly fatal, however victims’ hearts and/or breathing may stop, so quick application of CPR will likely save their life.
The time that is most dangerous is when there is underestimation of the likelihood of being hit, for example before the storm or when you think it is over.
Because electrical charges can linger in clouds after a thunderstorm has passed, experts agree that people should wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.
If the weather makes activity unsafe, the activity should be abandoned.
Ultimately, the safety and welfare of those involved in the event is the priority.
Further Information and Guidance: