A lightning safety plan should be an integral part of the planning process for any outdoor event. Do not wait for storm clouds to develop before considering what to do should lightning threaten! An effective plan begins LONG before any lightning threat is realized.
The key to an effective lightning safety action plan lies in answers to the following questions:
1. Where is the safest lightning shelter?
2. How far is the group from that location?
3. How long will it take to get the group there?
Knowing the answers to these questions and formulating a plan of action accordingly will likely reduce the chances of anyone being struck by lightning.
If a Region has frequent thunderstorms, that Region should consider posting a safety policy on the Region’s Website, discussing it in Safe Haven® courses, emphasizing at all coach, referee and team parent orientation meetings and putting it in the Region Handbook distributed to participating families.
In tournament play or other special events, if there is a possibility of thunder and lightning storms, a pre-event meeting to discuss guidelines, safety procedures, duties and responsibilities of all event staff and participants should be conducted. A communication plan should also be considered so this information can be given to all participants and volunteers in order to execute emergency planning procedures.
Event officials will consult and determine the course of action – give the “all clear” sign for games to resume, cancel the balance of ongoing games or cancel games for the day. Event administrators, Regional Commissioners or their designees, including Coach Administrator, Referee Administrator or Referees, should have the authority, as so designated, to delay the start of play, call a halt in play or suspend/terminate a game due to severe weather conditions.
Most people are struck by lightning before and after storms have peaked, not at the height of a thunderstorm. Lightning often strikes miles from the area of rain. Please be aware of how far lightning can strike from its originating thunderstorm.