MANILA, Philippines – It’s rainy season, and thunderstorms are inevitable.
Thus, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) advises the public to refrain from going outdoor to avoid the hazards of thunderstorms especially the unpredictable lightning strikes.
According to PAGASA Weather Specialist Vivien Esquivel, lightning adds nitrogen to the soil which transforms into plant-usable mineral responsible for the green in plants.
However, this positive effect on the ground works differently when lightning strikes on the human body.
Recently, two boys from Barangay Patag Ilaya in the town of Sta. Elena died from a lightning strike.
According to reports, cousins Jimboy Magsino Lora and Jericho Compra Lora asked permission to go outside to look for a signal for their mobile phones.
The teenagers sat near a tree to play mobile games but lightning struck the tree and burned them. Even their mobile phones were destroyed due to the lightning strike.
According to Esquivel, lightning strikes at random.
“Minsan, nakikita nating umiilaw lang sa ulap. Ang tinatawag natin doon ay ‘cloud-to-cloud’ lightning. Mayroon naman tayong tinatawag na cloud to ground lightning. Iyon ang tumatama sa atin. Tumatama sa ground or anumang bagay na at random,” she explained.
(We see flash of lights up in the clouds. That’s what we call ‘cloud-to-cloud’ lightning. Also, there is what we call ‘cloud-to-ground’ lightning that which strikes humans, or the ground or just anything at random.)
“Kahit na nasa baba ka, kung talagang tatamaan ka ng kidlat ay matatamaan ka talaga kasi lightning strikes anywhere,” she added.
(Even if you’re on the ground, if lightning strikes you, that’s inevitable because lightning strikes anywhere.)
For this reason, PAGASA advises the public to take note of important measures to avoid the dangers of lightning strikes.
- Stay away from an open field and find an enclosed shelter immediately.
- Remove all metal accessories from the body such as jewelry or watch.
- Refrain from using your cellphone and do not attempt to look for signals.
- When driving a car, pull over and sit straight. Do not touch anything metal inside the car like keys or metal handle.
- If in case there is no safe place outdoors, do the ‘lightning safety crouch’. Position your feet next to each other, with the heels touching. Try to rest on the balls of your feet so you minimize the surface of the ground you’re touching.
- Close your eyes and cover your ears.
- Do not use corded telephone line or cellphones even inside the house. Cellphones may be used for emergency situations but refrain from doing so if possible.
- Unplug all appliance and turn off all gadgets. Do not leave them on standby mode.
- Avoid taking a bath or using the shower.
- Avoid using taps or washing the dishes.
“Stay away from anything that are good conductor of electricity kapag may lightning activity lalo na kung frequent ang lightning strikes within your area (when there is lightning activity especially if lightning strikes are frequent in your area),” noted PAGASA Weather Forecaster Chris Perez.
“Huwag kayong pakatiwala na hindi overhead ang thunderstorm ay hindi na kayo tatamaan kasi nagta-travel po ang lightning (Do not be complacent. Thunderstorms may not be overhead but it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t strike you. (Note that) lightning travels), ” warned Esquivel.
“So kahit 9 kilometers or 10 kilometers ang thunderstorm, huwag kayong magstay sa labas (So even if the distance of a thunderstorm is about 9km to 10 km away from you, do not stay outdoor). Make yourself the smallest target, ” she concluded. (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)