Monday, September 12, 2011

Outdoor Sport Coaches Play it Safe! If You Hear Thunder, You and Your Players Are in Danger!

During my off hours I happen to coach youth travel soccer for a soccer club in the metro area. Needless to say, the weather over the last couple of weeks has made practices and games difficult to get in.

What has really shocked me (no pun intended as you read on) is the wide spread lack of knowledge as it relates to thunderstorms and the inherent dangers associated with said storms by parents, coaches, and game officials.  This is especially true as it relates to the sound of thunder with no apparent sign of lightning in the sky.  Parents, coaches, and game officials do not seem to understand that if you can hear thunder, both the children and you are in harms way of a potential lightning strike.

This exact situation occurred yesterday in a U10 girl’s soccer game I was observing.  The sky was getting dark and then we heard what we thought was thunder.  We were not 100% sure but any doubt was erased maybe 30 seconds later when a very clear and loud crack of thunder was heard.  We began to evacuate our clubs U10 players and informed the referee and the other teams’ coaches that play needed to be suspended and all should seek immediate shelter until the threat passed.  Both the coaches, the referee, and the parents seemed upset at this and repeatedly pointed out they had not observed lightning.  At the end of the day, they reluctantly agreed if only because our girls were already on the way to shelter.

The storm passed, the teams waited the appropriate number of minutes and play resumed though the other coaches, parents, and referee were very annoyed with our clubs actions.

I have also observed similar types of situations and behavior over the last few weeks at various area soccer tournaments.  Which leads me to share the below information with all of you.  No matter the outdoor sport and whether you are a coach, parent, game or league official, I hope that you take time to review the below brochure from our friends at The National Weather Service.  I hope that all of you take heed and take appropriate steps to act appropriately if confronted with the sound of thunder or the sight of lightning and keep our kids (and you) safe!

Stay Safe,

Bill Delaney
Program Manager - Community Safety Education & Social Media
Office of the Fire Chief
Montgomery County Fire & Rescue

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