NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Florida — A 27-year-old man who was struck by lightning on Tuesday died over the weekend, becoming the first lightning-related fatality in Florida this year.
The man was tending to a lawn as part of a landscaping project as a thunderstorm approached and lost consciousness when lightning struck a nearby palm tree.
“Lightning struck, and he was right next to it,” said the the victim’s cousin told FOX 35 Orlando. He was 20 meters away when the lightning struck. Doctors believed the charge had sunk into the tree and into the ground. It then kicked the victim’s foot and charged through his body, FOX 35 said.
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The man’s death was the seventh to occur in the United States in July – all men, according to John Jensenius with the National Lightning Safety Council. Although this is the first in Florida this year, Florida leads the nation in lightning-related deathswith 80 since 2006.
Jensenius says death in Florida is ninth flash death in US work-related landscaping and lawn care activities during thunderstorms since 2006. Seven of those nine have occurred in Florida. In addition, 21 other people have died in the United States from lightning strikes during non-work related lawn maintenance.
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Jensenuis says if you’re outside during a thunderstorm, you’re in danger. The priority is to get inside.
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“The key to safety is planning ahead to make sure you can get to a safe place,” Jensenius told FOX Weather. “If thunderstorms are forecast, you should consider canceling or postponing the activity if you cannot get to a safe location quickly. If you are involved in an outdoor activity and thunderstorms are possible, watch radar or lightning data if possible, keep an eye on the sky, and move to a safe place immediately if the sky looks threatening or you even hear a distant rumble of thunder. we recommend that you run as fast as possible to get to a safer place.
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This safer place means inside a car or inside a building. You must wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap to resume outdoor activity.
Lightning fatalities favor men 4-1 over women
Of the 446 people who died from lightning strikes between 2006 and 2021, 357 – 80% – were men.
“Although we don’t have studies to show the exact reason why men are four times more likely to be killed by lightning than women, we suspect it has to do with their behavior around thunderstorms,” said Jansenius. “Men tend to be involved in certain activities that make them more vulnerable to a lightning strike, but we also believe they are less willing to react quickly to a lightning threat.”
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He says that 90% of lightning-related fatalities related to work such as agriculture, ranching, roofing and construction are male. Similarly, approximately 90% of victims involved in fishing or sporting activities are men.