RENO -- Last year lightning strikes killed 51 people in the United States.
On average, the phenomenon kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes, according the the National Weather Service.
The federal agency known for its flood, hurricane and tornado warnings wants to get the word out on how dangerous lightning is by promoting June 22-28 as Lightning Awareness Week.
The record distance for a lightning strike is 13 miles from a storm. It took the life of a 13-year-old boy from Iowa. It was a freak occurrence, but lightning is a real threat to anyone who is outside during a thunderstorm.
Several years ago in Carson City, a man was killed by lightning while on an aluminum ladder putting up a basketball hoop. On average, three people are injured or killed by lightning each year in Nevada, according to the National Weather Service.
The prime months for lightning to strike in our region is May and August, said Roger Lamoni, warning-coordination manager at the weather service in Reno.
"It can last into June, of course," Lamoni said. "If you hear thunder, you should take cover."
Lamoni said this is the third year the National Weather Service has promoted lightning awareness. The lack of attention from public agencies is due in part because lightning is not as sensational a topic or news item as a hurricane, tornado or flood, he said.
People on vacation tend to let common sense go by the wayside, Lamoni said, therefore unknowingly making themselves more susceptible to being struck.
"People go on vacation and leave their brains at home," Lamoni said. "When people are at home, they take more precautions -- here, they don't."
Don't get zapped
-- All thunderstorms produce lightning. If you hear thunder, you are in danger.
-- Lightning may strike as far as 10 miles from where rain is falling.
-- About 10 percent of people struck by lightning die; many suffer lifelong health problems.
-- Stay away from tall trees, stages, towers, utility poles, bleachers, scaffolding and fences.
-- If you feel your hair stand on end, which is an indication lightning is about to strike, crouch on the balls of your feet, put your hands on your knees, and bend your head down to make yourself the smallest target possible.
Source: National Weather Service