Lightning Safety: 30 Second/30 Minute Rule
Adapted from John M.
Sadler, JD, CIC
Lightening at a regatta event is a real possibility. Race Directors should understand the 30/30 Rule and take measures to increase the safety of regatta participants.
Lightning Myths Exposed
30/30 Lightning Rule For Postponing Activity And Returning To Activity
Most experts recommend that outdoor
athletic events like regattas should be postponed when the thunderstorm
approaches from a distance of six miles. The best way to gauge the distance of
a thunderstorm is to measure the elapsed time from the flash to bang. Since a
count of five seconds equals a distance of one mile, a count of thirty seconds
equals a distance of six miles. In most cases, when you can hear thunder, you
are no longer safe, and the regatta on water activity should cease.
All individuals should have left the regatta site and reached a safe shelter or location by the time the elapsed flash to bang reaches a count of 30 seconds. If you can’t see lightning, just hearing the thunder is a good back-up rule.
Individuals can return to the regatta site once thirty minutes has elapsed since the last flash or thunder. One of the most dangerous forms of lightning is a “bolt from the blue” which typically originates out of the back side of a thunderstorm and has been known to strike as far as ten miles away.
All decisions about postponing an activity or returning to an activity should be made by the race director, supervisor, trainer, coach, and/or officials who are responsible for signaling to remove individuals from a regatta course.
It is advisable that a public address announcement be read addressing the following topics during the skippers meeting:
Race Directors may also want to
consider signage summarizing 30/30 Lightning Rule as well as instructions for
Best Places To Take Cover (In Order Of Most Safe To Least Safe)
2. Vehicle: An enclosed vehicle such as a car, truck, van, or bus with a metal roof (not a convertible) and windows completely shut. Avoid touching anything metal or any conducting path to the outside such as a steering wheel, ignition, radio, gear shifter, etc. while inside the car.
3. In The Open: If a suitable sturdy building or vehicle is not available, you may have to stay in the open. Avoid all water, metal objects (such as electrical wires, machinery, motors, bleachers, and fences), small boats, high ground, isolated trees, and telephone poles. If lightning is striking nearby, avoid all direct contact with other people, remove all metal objects from your person, and crouch down with feet together and hands on knees making sure that only your feet are touching the ground.
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. 25 Apr. 2006. 22 Sept. 2006
National Lightning Safety Institute. 11 Sept. 2006. 22 Sept. 2006
Lightning Safety: NCAA Guideline 1D. June 1998. 22 Sept. 2006
Journal of Athletic Training 2000; 35(4):471-477. the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Inc.
Blackburn, Mike. “Athletic Administrator Need Plan For Dealing With Dangers Of Lightning.”
Interscholastic Athletic Administration 1999: 22-24
Appenzeller, Herb, David Scott, Todd Seidler. Risk Management In Sport.