Post written by: Tyler Rex
According to the National Weather Service, “In the United States, an average of 53 people are killed each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured.” Lightning poses a great liability threat to those who work outdoors on a daily basis, like golf course owners and operators.
New technologies paired with an increased understanding of the threats have reduced the risks associated with lightning strikes. Shelter houses or pavilions, the obvious escape to safety, offer the additional protection of lightning rods. But, this is, by no means, new.
Lightning detection has now become the most critical aspect of golf course lightning safety. The ability to predict lightning is the first line of defense in lightning safety, which allows golfers and staff ample time to seek shelter.
To mitigate your lightning liability, we suggest employing the following five tactics while working the course.
- Use lightning detection systems. This will allow the golf course to predict a storms threat to the safety of course patrons. Give advanced warning of the threat for evacuation purposes.
- Track weather forecast monitoring and Radar System monitoring. This again will allow the course operators to watch and follow developing storm patterns so as to better warn their patrons. Tune into your local news station for the latest updates.
- Provide safety shelters throughout the course. Safety shelters allow patrons already on the course to seek safety from lighting through properly built structures with lightning rods attached. They provide quick relief, and safety, from both rain and lightning.
- Formalize an evacuation plan.Many courses install weather sirens that alert golfers to evacuate the course in the event of severe weather. Staff may survey the course during the weather alert to pick up any stranded patrons without golf carts or safe means of transportation back to the club house or nearest shelter house.
- Define clear procedures following a storm. A second siren may be installed to alert those taking cover in shelters that the severe weather has passed, and it is again safe to be on the course. This is the most effective way for all patrons on the course to be alerted of safe conditions. Golf course staff could also take extra golf carts or maintenance vehicles onto the course to personally give the all clear to all patrons still seeking shelter.
There is no single way to best protect a golf course from the liability of lightning, but there are safety measures that can be taken to reduce your risk of harm. Severe weather will continue to pose a major threat to exposed and open areas, such as golf courses, regardless of the steps taken.
The best way to protect your staff and golfers is to make them aware of the risk posed by severe weather, and to observe proper safety procedures.
What would you add to the list? Feel free to share in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!