4 things to do when lightning strikes at the beach

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Updated 7:46 a.m. on 6/29/15: A monsoonal system from northern Mexico and Arizona is bringing hot, humid weather and a chance of thunderstorms. That also means there is a potential for lightning strikes.

Last year, an incoming USC student was struck and killed by lightning in Venice Beach, prompting officials to start developing a beach-clearing protocol.

If you're headed to the beach or out on the water in the next couple days, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Adam Eggers has the following advice:

  • Before you head out, check the weather forecast to see whether any storms have been predicted. This is especially important if you plan to go out in a boat and might be at sea for a while. Keep an eye out for clouds as well.
  • If you're in the water or outdoors and hear thunder, dry off and take shelter on higher ground as soon as possible. Eggers add that even the picnic awnings at some parks can be at increased risk of a lightning strike.
  • If you're in a boat and hear thunder, head back to the dock soon as possible. Boats with an aluminum hull are especially at risk during a strike, he explained. If you find yourself at sea when clouds form, Eggers says: "Make your way to a safe harbor and tie up and get off the boat."
  • If you're in a boat and cannot make it back to safe harbor quickly, move as quickly as possible away from the storm. Eggers says, if possible, locate visually where the lightning  strikes are happening or listen for which direction thunder seems to be coming from and go in the opposite direction.

For more information, go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website for more tips on avoiding lightning strikes.

The National Weather Service provides useful forecasts for Southern California as well.

This story was originally published on July 28, 2014.

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