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Lightning safety critical during summer
The heat of July and August draws a lot of people to the Georgia's shore, but that's not all it brings to the coast.

It also can be a time of greater thunderstorm activity.

Glynn County Police Capt. Jay Wiggins, director of the county emergency management agency, says outdoor activities and lightning don't mix.

Quoting a National Weather Service slogan, Wiggins said residents should respect lightning.

"If thunder roars, get indoors," Wiggins said. "It's one of nature's No. 1 killers. People just need to be aware of it. We are getting to that time of year."

The county does a good job of keeping on top of lightning storms at its parks and pools, which are outfitted with lightning detectors, Wiggins said. And Georgia Power has always been responsive with power outages that result from storms, but Wiggins said there are simple things residents can do to keep safe when lightning occurs.

First and foremost, stay indoors during thunderstorms. If residents get caught outdoors unaware by a quickly formed summer storm, they should immediately seek sturdy shelter or a hard-topped automobile, Wiggins said.

Lightning and summer storms can still create problems for residents who are indoors, he said.

"We would just ask, to begin with, because a lot of people still do it, avoid using candles (when power outages happen) because that can start a fire in the home. We ask that people make sure they have fresh batteries and flashlights in case they lose power," Wiggins said.

Wiggins said residents should also try to stay informed with a portable radio.

Lightning is the No. 3 weather-related killer in Georgia, and the state led the nation in lightning-related deaths in 2010, according to a weather service release.

Lightning is not only a threat to people. It can be a threat to property as well.

Georgia Forestry Commission spokeswoman Wendy Burnett said lightning sparked 744 Georgia wildfires in 2011 that torched a total of 15,267 acres. That does not include the Honey Prairie Fire, which was also started by lightning and burned 309,200 acres in the Okefenokee Swamp.

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