The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marks June 21-27 as Lightning Safety Week in order to call attention to the deadly nature of lightning.
With millions of Americans spending time outdoors in typical summer fashion, storms can threaten daily activities. Yet many still underestimate the harm lightning can cause to the most unsuspecting victims.
NOAA has confirmed of nine lightning fatalities so far this year. More than half occurred during recreational activities.
Lightning kills an average of 49 people a year and hundreds more are severely injured, according to the NWS. The odds of getting struck by lightning in any given year are approximately one in 1 million, but the odds of getting struck in a lifetime are one in 10,000.
More than 70 percent of lightning deaths occur from June to August, with more fatal strikes on Saturdays and Sundays according to NOAA.
From 2006 to 2014, 64 percent of deaths occurred during a leisure activity such as fishing, swimming or participating in sporting activities.
The only way to stay safe from lightning's reach is to find shelter indoors. It is essential to heed storm warnings and at the first sign of thunder or lightning, seek proper shelter.
Even if a storm is not in your immediate area, it can still pose a threat.
"Though a thunderstorm may not be directly overhead, you could still get hit by lightning," AccuWeather Meteorologist Krissy Pydynowski said. "A bolt of lightning can strike people and buildings 10 miles away from where it is raining."
"In extremely rare cases, lightning has been detected almost 50 miles from the parent thunderstorm," she said.
The best shelter is a sturdy, enclosed building. Other covered structures like pavilions and tents without walls do not provide proper protection from lightning. If there is no nearby enclosed building, vehicles make for suitable shelter.