Guidelines on Handling Practices and Contests During Lightning or Thunder Disturbances
The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a default policy to those responsible for making decisions concerning the suspension and restarting of contests based on the presence of lightning. The preferred sources from which to request such a policy for your facility would include your state high school association and the nearest office of the National Weather Service. These guidelines provide a default policy to those responsible or sharing duties for making decisions concerning the suspension and restarting of practices and contests based on the presence of lightning or thunder. The preferred sources from which to request such a policy for your facility would include your state high school activities association and the nearest office of the National Weather Service.
- Assign staff to monitor local weather conditions before and during practices and contests.
- Develop an evacuation plan, including identification of appropriate nearby safe areas.
- Develop criteria for suspension and resumption of play:
- When thunder is heard within 30 seconds of a visible lightning strike, or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen, the thunderstorm is close enough to strike your location with lightning. Suspend play for thirty minutes and take shelter immediately.
- Thirty-minute rule. Once play has been suspended, wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or flash of lightning is witnessed prior to resuming play.
- Any subsequent thunder or lightning after the beginning of the 30-minute count will reset the clock and another 30-minute count should begin.
- Review annually with all administrators, coaches and game personnel.
- Inform student athletes of the lightning policy at start of season.
For more detailed information, refer to the "Lightning and thunder Safety" section contained in the NFHS Sports Medicine Handbook.