[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         July 11, 2008

Lightning safety important 
for troops in field

      Although it hasn't been hit as hard as some areas in the Midwest by severe rain storms, Fort McCoy still is susceptible to inclement summer weather, including lightning, say Fort McCoy training and safety officials.

      Troops training in the field at Fort McCoy are at risk of being affected by lightning because they use communications equipment and have military gear that often is made out of metal, such as furniture, cots, weapons, etc., which may serve as a conductor for lightning.

      All of these factors can lead to a greater-than-average risk that personnel training in the field may be affected by lightning strikes, said Gene Nall, Fort McCoy chief of Range Operations.

      Before or during a rain/lightning storm, Soldiers should:

  • Stay away from antennas, masts, guy wires, anything with metal that could serve as a conductor and all grounding and lightning protection equipment.

  • Suspend communications if the weather permits before a storm. This includes disconnecting signal inputs.

  • Not attempt to dismantle or handle anything that is made of metal or could serve as a conductor during a storm.

      Information about storms will be relayed through radio contact with Range Control, Nall said.

      Soldiers also can get relevant weather information, including the wet bulb globe-index temperature reading, by calling the 2HOT line at (608) 388-2468 or 2-2468 from a post telephone.

      During a storm, troops should:

  • Stay low in a ditch or depression without lying flat on the ground if in the field and no shelter exists. If available, troops should be in a lightning-certified or lightning-protected building, which offer the best protection from lightning. Buildings offer better protection than vehicles. Vehicles of fully enclosed metal, not those with canvas tops or other canvas material, offer some safety while no place outside is safe near a thunderstorm.

  • Seek shelter if there is 30 seconds or less between the flash (lightning) to bang (thunder) stage. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash before leaving the shelter.

  • Personnel who have to remain outside should take shelter under a small tree among several large trees, if possible. People should remain at least six feet away from tree trunks to minimize risks and never stand under an isolated tree.

  • Stack weapons at least 50 meters away from personnel.

  • Remove multiple integrated laser engagement system equipment and other metal equipment.

  • Avoid using telephones, water, unplug appliances and stay in inner rooms if in a barracks.

      Lighting is the second leading cause of weather deaths in the United States, with 100 personnel killed each year -- about 10 percent of those people struck by lightning. Personnel struck by lightning often have serious problems, with 70 percent reporting long-term medical problems and 30 percent suffering debilitating injuries.

      Injured personnel do not carry an electrical charge so they can be handled safely. First-aid procedures and cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation should be applied immediately, if necessary.

      For more information about how to weather storms, troops can visit the Fort McCoy Extranet Safety Section, accessible from the Fort McCoy public Web site at http://www.mccoy.army.mil or troops can call the Installation Safety Office at (608) 388-3403.

      Lightning safety information also is available at the Web site http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov, which includes links to other sites with lightning safety information.

      Safety in adverse weather conditions is one of the topics addressed in the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center's 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

      Topics can be accessed at the Web site https://crc.army.mil, by clicking on the 101 Days of Summer icon on the lower right part of the Homepage.


[ Top of Page ]

[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]