Michael Faulkner, Director
499 NW 5th Ave.  Okeechobee, FL  34972
Phone: (863) 763-3212     Fax: (863) 763-1569
Please call for e-mail contact information.


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Thunderstorm/Lightning Tips

Thunderstorms are created when warm, moist air rises, cools and condenses. It swells into mounds of thick, billowy cumulous clouds that quickly darken into the towering, ominous-looking clouds characteristic of thunderstorms. Strong, gusty winds and heavy rains with thunder and lighting will soon follow.  In summer, afternoon thunderstorms are likely to occur over Lake Okeechobee when the humidity and temperature ashore are high.  You can determine the distance of an approaching thunderstorm by counting the number of seconds between the lighting flash and the thunder clap, and dividing by five. This will give you the distance in miles you are from the storm.

Lightning does not strike just during the height of the thunderstorm. In fact, the greatest danger often comes with the first or last flash, when people least expect it. Florida leads the nation in lighting deaths and injuries. People are struck most often by lighting during the "rainy" season, usually from May through October with the peak month being July.  Some locations are more dangerous than others. The greatest number of people are struck while near a body of water. This includes people at the beach, near lakes, on fishing piers, and in small boats. Another vulnerable location is an open area with a few trees around, such as a ball field, playground or golf course.  Become familiar with lighting safety rules an save your life or that of a loved one.


  • If outside, get inside a building or an all-metal vehicle (not a convertible).

  • Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.

  • Get out of the water, off the beach and out of small boats and canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat, away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water. Rubber boots offer little protection.

  • When there is no shelter, avoid the highest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, your best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high.

  • Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clothes lines, exposed sheds, and any electrically conductive, elevated objects.

  • Do not use metallic objects like golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets and tools.

  • Do not work on fences, telephone or power lines, pipelines, steel fabrications, antennae, or on roof tops, or other high places.

  • Stop tractor work and heavy construction equipment, especially when pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Do not seek shelter under the equipment. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are often struck by lightning.

  • At construction sites, move to a location beneath a solid roof. Avoid openings such as windows or doors.

  • Don't be under a carport or in an open garage.

  • Indoors, stay away from open doors and windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and plug-in electrical devices. Stay out of the shower or bathtub and off of the toilet. Do not use a corded telephone or a computer. Unplug major appliances such as televisions and air conditioners. Lightning can enter the house through electrical, telephone and plumbing connections.

  • Persons 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 "killed" by lightning can often be revived by prompt CPR. Other persons, who appear only stunned, may also need medical attention. Do not let victims walk around. Give them first aid for shock.



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