Lightning Policies and Procedures


Lightning’s behavior is random and unpredictable. Preparedness and a quick response are the best defenses to minimize the lightning hazard. It is imperative that all student-athletes, athletic staff members, game officials, and spectators are aware of the potential that lightning can strike even if the storm is miles away.


The Capital University Department of Athletics will utilize a hand-held lightning detector (Sky Scan) to determine the proximity of lightning strikes. The lightning detector will be carried by the athletic trainer on site or a member of the coaching staff (if an athletic trainer is not available).


If a hand-held lightning detector is not available at the practice or competition site, the Capital University Department of Athletics will utilize the flash-to-bang method to determine the proximity of lightning. The athletic trainer on site will monitor the lightning using the flash-to-bang method. To use this method, count the seconds from the time lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard. Divide the number of seconds by five (5) to obtain (in miles) the distance the lightning is occurring.


In accordance with the NSSL (National Severe Storms Laboratory) and the NCAA Competitive Safeguards Committee, it is recommended that by the time the flash-to-bang count gets to 30 SECONDS, all individuals should have been relocated to the appropriate location designated by specific venues or to the nearest safe location of their own choosing.


Lightning Strikes Within 8-10 Miles

The following actions will take place.

  1. The dugouts/field will be cleared immediately.
  2. An announcement will be made over the PA system alerting the spectators to the severe weather situation.
  3. The entire facility, including the metal bleacher areas will be cleared.
  4. Participants, game officials, athletics staff, and any other person desiring shelter will be relocated to the appropriate location. (See sport specific venue procedures.)
  5. Practices will be delayed.

The event or practice will not resume until lightning strikes are greater than 8 miles away (per lightning detector) OR 40+ seconds have passed from the time lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard (per the flash-to-bang method) AND for no less than 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in the 8-10 mile radius.


Lightning Strikes Within 8-20 Miles

The head coach and game officials will be notified of the approaching lightning.


Safe Shelter

A safe location is any substantial, frequently inhabited building. The building should have four solid walls (not a dugout), electrical, plumbing, and telephone wiring, all of which aid in grounding a structure. (Press boxes and maintenance sheds are NOT safe shelter areas.) It is not safe to shower, bathe or talk on landline phones while inside of a safe shelter during thunderstorms (cell phones are ok). The alternative choice for a safe location is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof with the windows completely closed. It is important to NOT TOUCH any part of the metal framework while inside the vehicle during ongoing thunderstorms.


Areas to Avoid

Shaded areas (tents, picnic areas, etc.); single tall trees; light or flag poles; water; metal bleachers; open fields, dugouts, fence, machinery


Lightning Safe Position

Crouch on the ground, weight on the balls of the feet, feet together, head lowered, and ears covered. Do not lie flat on the ground. You should also avoid proximity to other people (allow 15 feet).


Return to Athletic Activity

The decision to resume athletic practice or competition (after it has been suspended due to severe weather and/or lightning) will be made by the athletic trainer and/or administrator on site.