OCUA Lightning Policy
Weather in Canada is very similar to a good game of ultimate between two evenly matched teams – unpredictable. All sports enthusiasts should be prepared for all aspects of weather. Here are some lightning facts you should be aware of. Athletic teams that practice and compete outdoors are at risk when the weather is inclement.
Lightning Quick Facts:
- Lightning is an electrical spark closing a circuit between the charge that builds up in a storm cloud and the ground.
- Most persons are unaware that once a storm moves within 15 km of their location, because of the overhanging cloud, the storm can generate lightning that can kill or injure, even while that person is in bright sunshine.
- A significant fraction of the roughly 200 lightning fatalities in the US each year occur not only in sunshine, but just after a downpour or light drizzle.
- Too many people rely on their hearing to warn of an approaching storm when the average audible range of thunder is only 5 to 10 km.
- Lightning bolts announce themselves as a "burst of white noise" that occur primarily under a frequency of one megahertz.
- The average lightning bolt is 12 km long and most thunderstorms move at 40 km per hour. Lightning can strike from as far away as 15 km or more.
- While it is true that lightning often strikes the highest feature, it is not a requirement. Electricity, like water, flows from the highest potential to the lowest through the path of least resistance. This path is normally the shortest route between the two electrical potentials.
- Unless the lightning bolt is coming straight down from above, you may be a shorter distance for the bolt to travel than the most prominent point.
- In Canada, lightning kills between six and twelve people each year and causes 92-164 injuries. Outdoor recreational enthusiasts account for 70% of the victims killed and 62% of the injuries.
Use the 30/30 rule:
- IMMEDIATELY leave the field and take the appropriate shelter when you count 30 seconds or fewer between lightning and thunder.
- Remain sheltered for 30 minutes after the last thunder.
- Safe shelter shall be inside a substantial building, away from doorways, windows. Baseball/Softball dugouts are not appropriate. The shelter shall be able to keep the athletes and fans comfortable for up to 1 hour or more. While less than ideal, an enclosed motor vehicle will suffice. Avoid contact with the steering wheel, ignition, keys and/or radio.
OCUA Specific Rules on Lightning:
- If a lightning stoppage occurs within 30 minutes of time cap, the game is to be ended rather than trying to wait it out.
- For partially completed games, please refer to the OCUA specific rules to determine how a partially completed game should be handled. http://www.ocua.ca/ocua-specific-rules
- Unless both captains agree via the captain’s clause to cancel the game, teams are required to take safe shelter and attempt to resume the game 30 minutes after the lightning has passed or it will count as a default.
- Keep a safe distance from tall objects such as trees, hilltops, and telephone poles.
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as metal fences, bats, golf clubs, and bicycles.
- If you are in a group in the open, spread out, keeping people several meters apart.
- If caught in a field far from shelter and you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to hit you. Crouch on the ground immediately, with feet together, placing your hands on your knees and bending forward. DO NOT LIE FLAT.
Lightning Strike Victim Care:
- Lightning strike victims do not carry a charge and are safe to assess.
- The first rule of CPR, make sure the scene is safe, applies. If need be, move the victim to a safe location.
- It has been demonstrated that there is a high success rate of resuscitating lightning strike victims using CPR. Thus, it is imperative to treat the “apparently dead” first by promptly initiating CPR.
- Secondary survey should include evaluating and treating these common injuries from lightning strikes: hypothermia, shock, fractures, and burns.
More info on Lightning: