Since National Lightning Safety Awareness Week began in 2001, the average number of deaths from strikes has dropped "dramatically," from an average of 55 deaths per year in the U.S. when the campaign first began to just 21 fatalities in 2019, according to the National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC).
Fishing has accounted for 40 of those deaths, while being at the beach, camping, and farming or ranching made up the largest portion of deaths, according to data reviewed by the NLSC.
There's a pattern to most of those, according to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the NLSC,
Activities where people may be outside and not know if a storm is approaching when they are camping or fishing from a motorboat that drowns out the sound of thunder are factors to consider. If someone is at the beach, the sound of the surf may also drown out the distant rumbles of thunder.
"The key is if there's any threat at all, rumble of thunder or what looks like a threatening sky, you need to be able to get into a safe place very quickly," he said.
Here are the top 10 activities that have contributed to deadly lightning strikes from 2006 to 2019 as compiled by the NLSC.
1. Fishing: 40 deaths (10 percent of the total)
2. Beach: 25 deaths (6 percent of the total)
3. Camping: 21 deaths (5 percent of the total)
4. Farming or Ranching: 20 deaths (5 percent of the total)
5. Riding bicycle, motorcycle, or ATV: 19 deaths (5 percent of total)
6. Boating: 18 deaths (4 percent of total)
7. Social gathering: 16 deaths (4 percent of total)
8. Walking to or from home: 16 deaths (4 percent of total)
9. Roofing: 15 deaths (4 percent of total)
10. Construction: 13 deaths (3 percent of total)