Lightning deaths in U.S. hit all-time low

Published: Jan. 3, 2018 at 2:36 AM

Ray Downs

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Deaths by lightning hit an all-time low in 2017, the National Weather Service said this week.

Lightning killed a total of 16 people in the United States, the lowest number since records began in 1940, USA Today reported. That total broke the previous record low of 23 deaths, which was set in 2013.

"While we don't like to see any lightning deaths, the continuing downward trend in yearly fatalities is encouraging," John Jensenius, a NWS lightning safety specialist, told reporters, according to LiveScience.

Fifteen of the 16 deaths were males and one was female, setting new record lows for lightning deaths by gender.

Florida had the highest number of lightning deaths with five. Three deaths occurred in Alabama, Colorado, Texas and North Carolina each had two and Ohio and Puerto Rico each had one.

Deaths caused by lightning have decreased drastically since the 1940s, when hundreds of people - mostly farm workers - were killed each year by lightning strikes.

In 1943, lightning killed 432 people.

Since then, various factors have contributed to the decrease, including large population shifts to urban areas where life is mostly spent indoors, safety advancements in electrical and phone lines, as well as a government-run campaign to advise people of the dangers of lightning, which began in 2001.

A NWS campaign that year warned Americans: "When thunder roars, go indoors,"

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