Florida has the unhappy claim of being “America’s Lightning Capital,” both in number of strikes per square mile and in number of strikes overall. It also is the deadliest state for lightning, as confirmed again by the loss this Sunday of an 11-year-old boy who was struck on his way to football practice last week. The fact that the lightning strike happened only two days after another Floridian was struck (and survived) has some concerned, but scientists say that death by lightning has become increasingly rare, and that 2012 is on track to being one of the safest years on record.
What’s the Big Idea?
Since the 1940s — when yearly deaths averaged in the 300s — the number of lightning-related fatalities has been on a steady decline. The average number of yearly deaths over the past 30 years is 54; over the past decade, 32. The number of lightning strikes hasn’t decreased, and the country’s population has been increasing, so why are the number of deaths going down? Lightning experts offer two possible, simple explanations: increases in public safety education and in CPR training.