Resources for Coaches
Mass Youth Soccer
Precautions in Dealing with Lightning
Lightning is a serious danger. Thus lightning safety requires a large standoff
distance from thunderstorms and a long standoff time after apparent thunderstorm decay.
Thunder produced by a lightning strike travels one mile (1.6 km) every five seconds.
Thus, counting the number of seconds between the visible "flash" and the audible "bang" and
dividing by 5, provides the distance in miles.
The 30-30 Rule
Employ the "30-30 Rule" to know when to seek a safer location.
The "30-30 Rule" states that when you see lightning, count the
time until you hear thunder. If this time is 30 seconds or less,
go immediately to a safer place. If you can't see the lightning,
just hearing the thunder means lightning is likely within striking
range. After the storm has apparently dissipated or moved on, wait
30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving the
First Strike Advice
The "30-30 Rule" is best suited for existing thunderstorms moving into
the area. However, it cannot protect against the first lightning strike.
Be alert to changes in sky conditions portending thunderstorm development
directly overhead. Larger outdoor activities, with longer evacuation times,
may require a longer lead-time than implied by the "30-30 Rule."
When lightning threatens, go to a safer location. Do not hesitate.
What is a Safe Location
What is a safer location? The safest place commonly available during a
lightning storm is a large, fully enclosed, substantially constructed
building, e.g. your typical house, school, library, or other public
building. Substantial construction also implies the building has wiring and
plumbing, which can conduct lightning current safely to ground. However,
any metal conductor exposed to the outside must not be touched precisely
because it could become a lightning conduit. Once inside, stay away from
corded telephones, electrical appliances, lighting fixtures, ham radio
microphones, electric sockets and plumbing. Don't watch lightning from
open windows or doorways. Inner rooms are generally preferable from a
If you can't reach a substantial building, an enclosed vehicle with a
solid metal roof and metal sides is a reasonable second choice. As with a
building, avoid contact with conducting paths going outside. Close the
windows, lean away from the door, put your hands in your lap and don't
touch the steering wheel, ignition, gear shifter or radio. Convertibles,
cars with fiberglass or plastic shells, and open-framed vehicles are not
suitable lightning shelters.
From John Burrill
Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association