Lightning Policies and Procedures: Crafting Them Correctly


Lightning Policies and Procedures: Crafting Them Correctly

Oct 25, 2023
Cam LaFontaine

Lightning policies can be a first-line defense against lightning strikes and storms, giving organizations the necessary guidance and protocols to act on when storms are a threat. Whether you’re a school sports coach, golf pro, or director of municipal parks, having a lightning policy is essential. So here’s how to craft lightning policies and procedures that are accurate, compliant, and effective.

Lightning policies and procedures: a first-line defense against lightning

Lightning policies and lightning procedures act as a measured response to the unpredictability of thunderstorms and lightning, and they accomplish two things: compliance and safety.

Many areas, particularly those susceptible to storms like Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, have regulations requiring lightning safety measures. By having a clear, actionable lightning policy, organizations remain compliant and reduce liability. 

Secondly, lightning policies and procedures ensure and facilitate the safety and protection of people and property. These policies outline things like when to take cover, pause a game or outdoor activities, and evacuate. Steps like these are easy to not think about day-to-day…until lightning actually strikes and suddenly instructions need to be followed and decisions need to be made. Having policies makes that process much easier.

Creating a lightning policy: a step-by-step guide

To create a solid lightning policy, you need to address all risks and make sure each step is understandable and achievable. Here are a few pointers for shaping a policy that’s both solid and effective:

Identify and understand lightning risks

Start by identifying the specific risks lightning poses in your area, building, or event. 

  • Are certain parts of your facility more exposed than others?
  • Is your event in an outdoor space?
  • Is there any historical data on lightning strikes in your area?

By knowing these risks, you can tailor your policy to address them specifically.

Consult with experts

Speak with weather and policy experts to ensure your policy covers all details and isn’t overly general. You want to make sure your policy covers your specific needs and any nuances involved.

Perry Weather, for instance, offers lightning policy consultations backed by meteorologists, helping organizations craft policies that are thorough, specific, and compliant. 

Combine lightning detection systems and lightning warning systems

Integrating a lightning detection system into your policy and procedure ensures your responses are based on live, accurate information. Taking that response a step further is a lightning warning system.

When lightning conditions are detected and breach thresholds in your policy, a lightning warning system will automatically send out alerts. Having both a detection and warning system act as safety bookends to your policy.

Detection and alerting systems like Perry Weather’s can trigger immediate notifications based on real-time lightning conditions, letting you act quickly and decisively.

Tailoring your lightning policy

Lightning policies aren’t one-size-fits-all though – there are different environments and activities we engage in. So it’s important to tailor policies to fit specific scenarios.

Here’s how to customize your lightning policy for maximum effectiveness and compliance:

Athletics: An athletic field exposes athletes and spectators to potential lightning threats, especially since a field is normally a wide-open outdoor space. The policy needs to consider the specific sport, the number of people involved, and the logistics of moving athletes and spectators to safety quickly.

Parks and Recreation: Parks can have a mix of open spaces, wooded areas, and bodies of water. The policy needs to account for the diverse terrain and the variety of activities people engage in, from picnicking to hiking to cycling.

Golf Courses: Golf courses are acres and acres of space, with trees (lightning magnets) and water hazards. Plus, with players spread out and often away from the clubhouse, the policy needs an effective alert mechanism.

For example, a golf course lightning policy might prioritize early lightning detection and remote alerts, given the expansive space. But an athletic field policy might focus more on quick evacuation procedures because of all the people concentrated in a single space. 

Adapting to Specific Needs and Regulations: Local regulations, guidelines from sports governing bodies, or best practices from similar institutions can all influence your lightning policy.

For instance, a school’s athletic lightning policy might be stricter since there are kids involved. Or regions prone to frequent lightning storms may have tighter local regulations that institutions have to follow.

Consulting with experts, like those from Perry Weather, can ensure your policy is both compliant and effective.

Keeping Policies Updated: Lightning safety isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it task. As our understanding of lightning evolves, as technology advances, or as local regulations change, your policy should adapt.

Regular reviews, especially post-lightning incident, can offer valuable insights.

Collaborating with local meteorological institutions or leveraging platforms like Perry Weather can help keep your policy current and in line with the latest research and best practices.

Key components of a lightning policy

A comprehensive lightning policy acts as the backbone for any institution or facility aiming to protect its stakeholders from the unpredictable and dangerous nature of lightning. Let’s take a look at some of the essential elements that make a lightning policy effective:

Detection and alert systems: An effective lightning policy begins with monitoring and detection. Using advanced lightning detection systems like Perry Weather’s allows for real-time tracking of potential lightning threats.

When choosing a lightning detection and alerting system, make sure it accurately detects and monitors lightning, and automatically triggers alerts based on your policies, making sure everyone within the facility or the designated area is quickly made aware of lightning and what to do next.

Evacuation procedures and safe zones: Once an alert is triggered, the next step is ensuring everyone reaches safety.

A well-defined evacuation procedure provides clear directions on what steps need to be taken. This includes identifying safe zones and safe shelters, like specific buildings that are grounded and protected against lightning. Marking these zones visibly and ensuring easy accessibility is key.

Keep in mind for areas like golf courses or parks, the procedure might include leveraging carts or vehicles to help with picking up people and assisting evacuations.

Communication plan during a lightning threat: Effective communication can be the difference between chaos and a coordinated response.

A communication plan dictates how alerts are sent — whether through sirens, PA systems, SMS alerts, or other means. It also involves designating roles and responsibilities, specifying who declares the all-clear, who assists with evacuations, and who liaises with external agencies if needed.

Regular review and updating of the policy: Like any other safety protocol, a lightning policy needs regular revisions. This ensures that it remains relevant to current infrastructural setups, local regulations, and advances in lightning detection technology.

Conducting periodic drills, gathering feedback from stakeholders, and analyzing any near-miss incidents can provide important insights. Incorporating these learnings into the policy keeps it effective and up-to-date.

Sample lightning policy

Let’s look at a sample excerpt from a generic lightning policy and break down its main points.

“Upon the detection of lightning within 10 miles of [Facility/Institution Name], the designated lightning detection system will automatically issue an alert. All ongoing outdoor activities will be halted immediately. Attendees, staff, and participants must move to the nearest pre-designated safe zone. Safe zones are identified as [Specific Building/Structure Names].

Communication of the threat will be relayed via [SMS alerts/PA systems/sirens]. Designated staff, identifiable by [specific badge/cap/color], will assist in guiding everyone to safety. Activities will resume only 30 minutes after the last detected lightning strike within the 10-mile radius. The all-clear signal will be given by [Designated Authority/Position], and this will be communicated through [Communication Channel]. Regular drills will ensure all stakeholders are familiar with the policy and its procedures.”

The excerpt showcases a clear and actionable lightning policy:

Monitoring systems: The policy employs a lightning detection system that automatically issues an alert upon detecting lightning within a stipulated distance.

Alert procedures: Immediate pausing of activities is required upon detection, reducing the time people are exposed to potential threats.

Evacuation plans: Clear directions are provided regarding where individuals should move to during a lightning threat, ensuring a structured and efficient evacuation.

Communication strategies: The policy details the channels through which alerts will be disseminated, ensuring wide reach and clarity.

Resumption of activities: The policy specifies a waiting period post the last detected lightning strike, further emphasizing safety.

It’s also worth noting the mention of regular drills, making sure that all stakeholders have practical training and knowledge of executing the policy.

Crafting a lightning policy of this quality requires expertise, understanding of local conditions, and using best practices. Perry Weather offers consultation services that can help institutions develop or refine lightning policies that are as comprehensive, actionable, and effective as the one shown above. With a focus on safety and compliance, Perry Weather makes sure every policy is tailored to offer maximum protection against lightning threats.

How Perry Weather streamlines lightning policy creation and compliance

Creating and enforcing lightning safety policies should be both efficient and effective. This is where Perry Weather comes to the forefront. With a suite of tools and services, we transform the complex challenge of lightning safety into a streamlined process that makes decision-making and safety straightforward.

First, our expert consultations ensure that you’re not just getting a generic policy, but one that’s tailor-made to fit your unique needs. These consultations, backed by our team of meteorologists, guarantee a policy that’s both comprehensive and actionable.

Integration is also seamless. Perry Weather’s advanced lightning monitoring and alerting platform coupled with top-of-the-line weather station hardware means real-time lightning monitoring is just a few clicks away. Gone are the days of relying on disconnected systems or manually cross-referencing weather data. 

But it’s not just about detection. Perry Weather goes a step further. 

Our platform and hardware are designed to automatically trigger predefined actions based on your lightning policy. Whether it’s sounding an alarm, sending out mass notifications, or triggering a text-to-speech PA warning, Perry Weather ensures that your policy doesn’t just remain on paper but is acted upon, ensuring maximum safety and compliance.

Lightning safety and policy preparedness

Lightning is one of the most dangerous severe weather events we encounter, so making sure you have an effective lightning policy and lightning procedures can safeguard you and those you’re responsible for. 

Having a tailored lightning policy is not just a document—it’s a specific set of actions that need to be properly followed to make sure you and those you’re responsible for are prepared and safe. 

Contact Perry Weather today to see how we can help you with your lightning policy and procedures. 

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