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How is a sporting event canceled due to lightning?

Lightning is a dangerous phenomenon. Athletic teams that practice and compete outdoors are at risk when the weather is inclement. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have developed lightning safety policies to minimize the risk of injury from a lightning strike to athletes, coaches, support staff and fans. That lightning safety policy is available at www.nata.org or in the NCAA Sports Medicine handbook and offers many excellent recommendations. Athletic trainers should be involved in the decision to cancel events because of lightning. Athletic trainers should monitor the weather and make the decision to notify the head coach or officials of dangerous weather and recommend that activities be suspended in the event of lightning. The attending athletic trainer should recommend to the head coach that practice or competition be terminated. Decisions will be based on NATA and NCAA recommendations concerning threatening weather. All personnel will immediately seek shelter at designated areas, in particular a substantial building.

(This answer provided for NATA by Jim Crawley, M.Ed., ATC, PT.)

At each event, especially ones where the weather could turn quickly, an administrator for that site will carry around a lightning meter.  In general the certified athletic trainer will have the meter and let the athletic director know when things are just too dangerous.  The meter is able to tell how close the lightning is to the event.  In the event that lightning is too close to the event, the event will need to be delayed or postponed for another day.  The lightning is just too dangerous and we don't want anyone getting hurt because proper precautions were not taken.  During most events there are a number of flagpoles or metal bleachers present, things that will attract lightning to your site. So when the event is canceled, don't hang around, go home.

In the event that there is not a lightning meter available, it is still ok to count the seconds in between the thunder and lightning strikes to see how close the storm itself is. 

 

 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.