SCVAA Lightning/Threatening Weather Policy
(Adapted from MSHSL)
Prior to the start of a contest, the two head coaches will reach consensus on whether or not the conditions present a threat to the safety of participants and spectators, and will determine whether or not the contest will begin. If the contest begins and weather deteriorates to unsafe conditions, then the two head coaches will cancel the contest. There will be no waiting period for weather to improve and resumption of play. In cases where threatening weather is present with no signs of change (e.g. excessive heat), the SCVAA Board may cancel all contests via direct email to families. Finally, we remind our families that the ultimate decision for a child’s participation lies with the parents and guardians. When in doubt, error on the side of safety.
While lightning on the horizon should warn of potential danger, lightning associated with thunder or thunder alone means that there is immediate danger to athletes, officials, and spectators. The adage — "If you can hear it, clear it." — should be used to make decisions to cancel the contest. Lightning can strike 10 miles ahead of or behind the storm front and thunderhead clouds.
Additional lightning-safety guidelines have been developed with the assistance of the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), and are listed below:
- As a minimum, NSSL staff strongly recommend that by the time the monitor obtains a flash-to-bang count of 30 seconds (equivalent to six miles), all individuals should have left the athletics site and reached a safe structure or location. Athletic events may need to be terminated.
- The existence of blue sky and the absence of rain are not protection from lightning. Lightning can, and does, strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain shaft. It does not have to be raining for lightning to strike
- If no safe structure or location is within a reasonable distance, find a thick grove of small trees surrounded by taller trees or a dry ditch. Assume a crouched position on the ground with only the balls of the feet touching the ground, wrap your arms around your knees and lower your head. Minimize contact with the ground, because lightning current often enters a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead strike. MINIMIZE YOUR BODY'S SURFACE AREA, AND MINIMIZE CONTACT WITH THE GROUND! DO NOT LIE FLAT! If unable to reach safe shelter, stay away from the tallest trees or objects (such as light poles or flag poles), metal objects (such as fences or bleachers), individual trees, standing pools of water, and open fields. Avoid being the highest object in a field. Do not take shelter under a single, tall tree.
- A person who feels his or her hair stand on end, or skin tingle should immediately crouch, as described in item 3.
- Avoid using the telephone, except in emergency situations. People have been struck by lightning while using a land-line telephone. A cellular phone or a portable remote phone is a safe alternative to land-line phones, if the person and the antenna are located within a safe structure or location, and if all other precautions are followed.
- People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge. Therefore, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is safe for the responder. If possible, an injured person should be moved to a safer location before starting CPR. Lightning-strike victims who show signs of cardiac or respiratory arrest need emergency help quickly. Prompt, aggressive CPR has been highly effective for the survival of victims of lightning.