Friday April 2, 2010
DURING the F1 race at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) last year, which was stopped because of a heavy rain, many race participants and spectators seemed to have ignored their personal safety by engaging in actions that are against the rules of basic lightning safety.
Screen grabs from the live TV telecasts showed many of them were doing the following dangerous acts while lightning was flashing. They included using umbrellas while exposed along the race track and on the hill sides; standing or sitting close to or under the palm trees; having physical contact with metallic structures; sitting with their feet on the ground and using wired headphones in the tents.
Fortunately, no lightning strike occurred at or near them and no incident was reported. However, the SIC management should not take this matter lightly since there is a potential for multiple victims if lightning safety awareness is not highlighted to the participants and spectators.
To avoid any undesirable incidents, the SIC and the public are encouraged to follow some basic lightning safety rules such as stopping all outdoor activities and seeking shelter as soon as you see dark thunder clouds gather on the horizon or over the hill. Lightning can strike up to 15km from the thundercloud even before the rain starts.
Also, never use an umbrella in a lightning storm. Others to remember include:
> Do not take shelter under a tree or in a tent, a small shed, a rotunda or a roadside food stall. For small shelters, ensure that they have been installed with a proper lightning protection system before you take shelter in them.
> Do take shelter inside a sturdy or large building such as a shop or a house, inside a metal roofed vehicle such as a bus, van or car, or under a large structure such as a bridge. But do not loiter outside a large building to avoid being struck by debris from lightning damage.
> If there is no proper shelter nearby, get down from an elevated position (eg. mound, hill top or platform). Get into any depression in the ground or in a dry drain.
> Get into a lightning defensive position i.e. squat down with your feet together and close your ears with your hands. Do not lie down and do not touch anyone or any metal objects near you.
> If it rains, get your clothes wet because wet clothing helps to reduce serious injuries to the lightning struck person. Let the current flow over you instead of inside you.
> If you are inside a shelter, do not touch any metallic object, electric equipment or cable. Do not use the telephone unless it is really urgent. Use a mobile phone instead. Keep away from the balcony, verandah, doorway, window, wall or pillar.
> Also stay inside the shelter for 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard. Lightning can strike up to 15 km from the thundercloud i.e. even after the rain has stopped!