LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Technology can help prevent lightning injuries at sports fields and complexes. Lee County Parks and Rec uses lightning detection devices at some of its facilities. Chris Williams is the Athletic Coordinator for Lee County Parks and Recreation. His secret weapon against lightning, isn't so secret.
"When that alarm goes off there's no question what's going on and you can hear it within a block or two, you have to get off the fields," said Williams.
The Thor Guard lightning detector sounds an alarm if lightning is within 12 miles. It also gives a signal when it's safe to play ball. It was installed five years ago at two of the county's parks.
"The major issue is to make sure everybody is off the fields. We do have folks that come from all over the country and are not associated with lightning like we are here. So when we do have lightning we have to make sure they get off the field because there have been times when I have to go out and say you guys need to get off the fields, it's very very dangerous," said Williams.
Some Lee County School District coaches have downloaded "Coach Smart" which tracks lightning strikes. Nancy Apperson supervises the county's aquatics division.
"I have an app on my personal cell phone. It's called "Flash Bang" so when I'm at the beach with my family I use it," she said.
Whether it's your personal safety or an entire team, being proactive is the best approach.
"You need to take it very seriously because even though it may not have happened to you, it can happen in a second," said Apperson.
Area coaches also use hand held devices to track lightning. About a month ago, the Lee County School District also began the process to identify permanent lightning detection systems that have an educational component to them, for classroom use.