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Lightning: Information for Organized Sporting Events

Photo of children playing soccer with a cloudy sky above

Lightning is the most frequent weather hazard affecting athletic events, such as baseball, football, swimming, skiing, track and field, soccer, and lacrosse. Lightning can strike and injure both players and spectators in outdoor stadiums during an organized sporting event.

Action Plans

Large outdoor stadiums should have action plans and procedures for lightning safety. These plans should include the following:

Evacuation Plan Specifics
Evacuation plans should include specific evacuation directions for stadium personnel to communicate to fans to avoid or reduce confusion. Also, evacuation procedures should be posted on tickets, flyers, large screens, and posters to increase awareness.

  • An evacuation plan for both players and spectators
  • A person monitoring all weather forecasts and reports
  • A safe shelter
  • The 30-30 rule

Precautions

If you are attending an organized sporting event at an outdoor stadium during a lightning storm, you can minimize your risk of being struck by taking precautions:

  • Remain calm.
  • Listen for instructions from stadium personnel.
  • Move to the designated safe shelters, away from metal poles and the open field. These shelters should be determined before the event if a chance of a storm exists.
  • Wait for an all-clear signal, which should occur approximately 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

For More Information

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a Lightning Toolkit for Large Venues.

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