A 41-year-old Sergeant assigned to the United States Army Reserve, Birmingham, Alabama, died in a combat skills/military unique mishap 20 July 2022 on Fort Gordon, Georgia, at approximately 1130 local. The Soldier was participating in annual training when a tree inside the unit's bivouac area was struck by lightning. The tree disintegrated into multiple pieces that landed on three of the unit’s tents. The resulting impacts caused fatal injuries to the Soldier and various non-fatal injuries to eight additional Soldiers. The Soldier died in transit to the hospital. This mishap is still under investigation.
Since 2017, the Army has lost an average of three Soldiers a year to combat skills/military unique mishaps. This tragedy was the third combat skills/military unique fatality of FY22.
AVOID THE LIGHTNING THREAT – When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
Each year in the United States, there are about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes and about 300 people struck by lightning. Of those struck, about 30 people are killed and others suffer lifelong disabilities. Even though we boast, “it’s not training unless it’s raining,” most of these tragedies can be prevented though a deliberate risk assessment of the weather and a known plan to mitigate the hazards of lightning.
· Know the local area weather forecast.
· Have a lightning safety plan. Know where you’ll go for safety and ensure you’ll have enough time to get there.
· Monitor the weather. Once outside, look for signs of a developing or approaching thunderstorm such as towering clouds, darkening skies, or flashes of lightning.
· Get to a safe place. If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, seek safety immediately.
-Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing are best.
-A hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows closed is also safe.
-Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
-Tents, sheds, picnic shelters, or covered porches do NOT protect you from lightning.
· Consider postponing activities if thunderstorms are forecast.
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby, the following actions may reduce your risk:
• Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
• Never lie flat on the ground.
• Never shelter under an isolated tree.
• Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
• Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
• Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, trees, etc.).
• If you’re swimming or boating get to dry land and find a shelter fast.