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How to Avoid Getting Struck by Lightning — and What to Do If Someone Gets Hit by a Bolt

Lightning strike
Lightning strike

Getty Images Lightning strike

The odds of being struck by lightning are less than one in a million, and almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive the unlikely event, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a slate of recent deadly lightning strikes has experts offering suggestions on how best to avoid getting struck by lightning if you're caught in a storm.

The CDC offers the following outdoor-safety tips:

— Be aware and check the weather forecast before planning outdoor activities. If being outdoors is non-negotiable, then make sure a suitable shelter is nearby.

— Avoid open vehicles, such as convertibles, golf carts or motorcycles

— Seek shelter if you are caught outside. Crouch in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ears and stay low — but don't lie flat to the ground — to minimize your exposure.

— Never seek shelter under or near isolated trees, and avoid objects that conduct electricity like barbed-wire fences or power lines.

— Stay away from bodies of water, cliffs or rocky overhangs, open spaces and structures, and elevated areas, such as mountain ridges or hills.

— Separate from others, if you are in a group, to reduce the number of injuries.

RELATED: Second Student Dies After Lightning Strike During Rowing Practice on Florida Lake

If you're with someone who is hit by lightning, or come across someone who's been struck, the CDC recommends taking action.

"Giving first aid to a person who has been struck by lightning while waiting for professional medical attention can save their life," the agency says on its site. "It is safe to touch people who have been struck by lightning; they DO NOT carry an electrical charge."

First, the CDC says, "Call 911 immediately," adding that it's safe to use a cell phone or cordless phone during a storm.

Next, the recommendation is to determine if you or the person you're helping remains at risk of further danger.

"It is unusual for a person who has survived a lightning strike to have any major broken bones that would cause paralysis or major bleeding complications, unless the person suffered a fall or was thrown a long distance," the CDC explains. "Therefore, it might be safe to move the victim to reduce the risk of further exposure to lightning. Do not move victims who are bleeding or appear to have broken bones."

Once you and the lightning strike victim are safe, "Check to see if the person is breathing and has a heartbeat," the CDC says, acknowledging that "lightning often causes a heart attack."

Once you've established that the person who was struck is breathing normally, check for other injuries. "Lightning can cause burns, shock, and sometimes blunt trauma," according to the agency. "Treat each of these injuries with basic first aid until help arrives."

It's also recommended to use a protective layer under the victim if the ground is wet or it's cold. This can help reduce the risk of hypothermia.

If a person who was struck by lightning isn't breathing, "immediately begin mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths," the CDC says.

If there is no pulse, the agency recommends performing chest compressions and to continue resuscitation efforts until help arrives.

RELATED: Florida Rowing Team Struck by Lightning During Practice, 1 Child Remains Missing

Earlier this month, lightning struck a youth rowing club team in Orlando, and two middle-school-aged children were killed, according to Spectrum News 13.

Last month, a lightning strike near the White House at Lafayette Park in Washington D.C. also left two dead and two in critical condition. James Mueller, 76, and Donna Meuller, 75 — both from Janesville, Wisconsin — died in the event, ABC News reported.

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The two victims were the first lightning deaths in the District of Columbia since 1991, according to the National Lightning Safety Council, the outlet reported.

The council's recommendation for when it storms is direct: go inside.

"No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area," the council stated. "When thunder roars, go indoors!"