Inclement Weather Policy

Lightning is the most dangerous and frequently encountered weather hazard that most people experience each year. It is the second most frequent killer in the United States with nearly 100 deaths and 500 injuries each year. Living in South Florida, the frequency of lightning strikes is even greater. 

The potential risk of injury and the consequences of an accident are too severe to ignore. With this in mind, the Lynn University Sports Medicine Department, in conjunction with the Sunshine State Conference and the NCAA, has adopted the following policy in regards to lightning safety. 

On Campus 

Lynn University and its Athletic Department are continually striving to provide a safe and risk-free environment for its student-athletes, spectators, coaches and staff. To this end, all on-campus activities will be monitored for lightning by the Thorguard Lightning Prediction and Warning System. The Thorguard system is a lightning “predictor” which measures and analyzes the electrostatic field in the atmosphere to predict the risk of a possible lightning strike. This differs from lightning “detection” systems which require lightning to strike the ground before a warning can be issued. This is of utmost importance considering a majority of lightning deaths and injuries occur from the first lightning strike or from the rear of a storm that has already passed. 

The Thorguard system (sensor and horn assembly) is located on top of the de Hoernle Gymnasium with one remote horn on top of the E.M. Lynn Residence Hall. In the event atmospheric conditions are present for a potential lightning strike, a 15-second blast will sound signaling that all fields should be cleared (“Red Alert”). It is imperative that athletes and spectators seek shelter during this time (see Shelters). Weather conditions will be continually monitored using the weathersentry dtn radar system and local weather forecasts. In addition to the horn blast, each assembly has a yellow strobe light that will illuminate during the “Red Alert” period. Once Thorguard no longer detects the threat of a lightning strike, the horn will sound three five-second blasts indicating that it is safe to return to activity (“All Clear”). 

It is important to remember that common sense should be used when conditions appear unsafe and the Thorguard system has not sounded; both when deciding to cease activity and deciding to return to play. This decision will be the responsibility of any of the following: 

  • Head coach (Practice with no other administrator present)
  • Sports medicine staff member (practice or game)
  • Game administrator (game)
  • Head official (game)

Off Campus 

If a team is practicing or has a game/match off campus, the decision to seek shelter will be made by any of the following: 

  • Head coach (practice with no other administrator present)
  • Sports medicine staff member (practice or game)
  • Game administrator (game)
  • Head official (game)

This decision will be based according to the guidelines set by the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). The guidelines recommend that athletic participation be discontinued when lightning has been detected within six miles. The decision to return to play will be made 30 minutes after the last dangerous lightning bolt has passed. Lightning proximity will be measured using the flash-to-bang method or the Skyscan Lightning Detector. 

Flash-to-Bang 

To use the flash-to-bang method, begin counting when a lightning flash is sighted. Counting is stopped when the associated bang (thunder) is heard. Divide this number by five (lightning travels 1 mile/5 seconds) to determine the distance to the lightning flash. For example, a flash-to-bang count of 30 seconds means the lightning is six miles away. 

Skyscan Lightning Detector

The Sunshine State Conference mandates that each school have a lightning detector present at all outdoor events. The Skyscan is able to detect lightning and thunderstorm activity up to 40 miles away. The unit will indicate lightning activity at ranges of 20-40 miles, 8-20 miles, 3-8 miles and under 3 miles away. 

Shelters 

A safe shelter is any substantial, frequently inhabited building. The building should have four solid walls (not a dug out), electrical and telephone wiring, as well as plumbing, all of which aid in a grounding structure. The secondary choice for a safer location is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and windows completely closed. It is imperative not to touch any part of the metal framework of the vehicle. Keep in mind that it is not safe to shower, bathe, or talk on land phone lines while inside a safe shelter during thunderstorms (cell phones are ok). 

The following is a list of possible shelter areas at the various sport venues on campus: 

Baseball/Softball Fields:
  • Freiburger Residence Hall
  • de Hoernle Residence Hall 
  • E.M. Lynn Residence Hall
  • Car or van
Soccer Fields:
  • de Hoernle Residence Hall
  • E.M. Lynn Residence Hall
  • Car or van
Tennis Courts:
  • de Hoernle Gymnasium
  • Car or van
Intramural Field:
  • de Hoernle Gymnasium 
  • Car or van

If you are unable to reach a 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. Minimize your body’s surface area, and minimize contact with the ground. DO NOT LIE FLAT! Assume a crouched position on the ground with only the balls of your feet touching the ground, wrap your arms around your knees and lower your head. 

Management of a Strike Victim 

  1. Survey the scene for safety.
  2. Activate local EMS.
  3. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch.
  4. If necessary, move the victim with care to a safer location.
  5. Evaluate airway, breathing, and circulation, and begin CPR if necessary.
  6. Evaluate and treat for hypothermia, shock, fractures, and/or burns.

Important 

All individuals have the right to leave an athletic site in order to seek a safe structure if the person feels in danger of impending lightning activity, without fear of repercussion or penalty from anyone. Furthermore, any coach, player, or spectator who remains at an athletic venue after the decision to suspend play has been made assumes full liability for any health related issue that may arise due to the inclement weather. Failure to abide by this policy may result in sanctions issued by the director of athletics. 

 
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