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Severe Weather for Athletics
  • Severe Weather Policies

    Severe weather policies have been established in order to better prepare the Capital University Department of Athletics staff, student-athletes, game officials and spectators for the appropriate safety procedures involved with severe weather and lightning. These policies have been established primarily to ensure the safety of participants at outdoor practices and competition. Portions of this policy have been developed based on recommendations from the National Lightning Safety Institute and the NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook. The Severe Weather and Lightning Safety Policy will be monitored and enforced by the Athletic Training Staff and Athletic Administration.


    If a severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning is issued for the Columbus area (or in the absence of a warning – the severe weather siren is activated), all activity (practice and/or competition) will be stopped immediately and all participants, game officials, athletics staff and spectators will be relocated according to the procedures outlined for each venue or to the nearest safest location.

    For Capital University’s full weather policies please review the Severe Weather Operations Policy for the Bexley Campus and the Tornado Policy.

    Lightning Policies & Procedures

    Lightning’s behavior is random and unpredictable. Preparedness and a quick response are the best defenses to minimize the lightning hazard. It is imperative that all student-athletes, athletic staff members, game officials, and spectators are aware of the potential that lightning can strike even if the storm is miles away.


    The Capital University Department of Athletics will utilize a hand-held lightning detector (Sky Scan) to determine the proximity of lightning strikes. The lightning detector will be carried by the athletic trainer on site or a member of the coaching staff (if an athletic trainer is not available).

    If a hand-held lightning detector is not available at the practice or competition site, the Capital University Department of Athletics will utilize the flash-to-bang method to determine the proximity of lightning. The athletic trainer on site will monitor the lightning using the flash-to-bang method. To use this method, count the seconds from the time lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard. Divide the number of seconds by five (5) to obtain (in miles) the distance the lightning is occurring.

    In accordance with the NSSL (National Severe Storms Laboratory) and the NCAA Competitive Safeguards Committee, it is recommended that by the time the flash-to-bang count gets to 30 SECONDS, all individuals should have been relocated to the appropriate location designated by specific venues or to the nearest safe location of their own choosing.
     

    Lightning Strikes Within 3-8 Miles

    The following actions will take place.

    1. The dugouts/field will be cleared immediately.
    2. An announcement will be made over the PA system alerting the spectators to the severe weather situation.
    3. The entire facility, including the metal bleacher areas will be cleared.
    4. Participants, game officials, athletics staff, and any other person desiring shelter will be relocated to the appropriate location. (See sport specific venue procedures.)
    5. Practices will be delayed.


    The event or practice will not resume until lightning strikes are greater than 8 miles away (per lightning detector) OR 40+ seconds have passed from the time lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard (per the flash-to-bang method) AND for no less than 20 minutes after the last lightning strike in the 3-8 mile radius.
     

    Lightning Strikes Within 8-20 Miles

    The head coach and game officials will be notified of the approaching lightning.


    Lightning Strikes Over 20 Miles

    During a team practice, it will be at the discretion of the head coach to whether or not to continue.


    Safe Shelter

    A safe location is any substantial, frequently inhabited building. The building should have four solid walls (not a dugout), electrical, plumbing, and telephone wiring, all of which aid in grounding a structure. (Press boxes and maintenance sheds are NOT safe shelter areas.) It is not safe to shower, bathe or talk on landline phones while inside of a safe shelter during thunderstorms (cell phones are ok). The alternative choice for a safe location is a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof with the windows completely closed. It is important to NOT TOUCH any part of the metal framework while inside the vehicle during ongoing thunderstorms.


    Areas to Avoid

    Shaded areas (tents, picnic areas, etc.); single tall trees; light or flag poles; water; metal bleachers; open fields, dugouts, fence, machinery


    Lightning Safe Position

    Crouch on the ground, weight on the balls of the feet, feet together, head lowered, and ears covered. Do not lie flat on the ground. You should also avoid proximity to other people (allow 15 feet).


    Return to Athletic Activity

    The decision to resume athletic practice or competition (after it has been suspended due to severe weather and/or lightning) will be made by the athletic trainer and/or administrator on site.

    Venue-Specific Lightning Procedures

     

    Bernlohr Stadium (Football and Soccer)

    A public service announcement will be made immediately before any game being played on a day that severe weather is likely to occur. Once lightning has been detected by the Sky Scan within the eight mile range or within the allotted flash-to-bang eight mile range (40 seconds), the spectators will be directed to exit the stands and proceed to Capital Center or their cars. The players and coaches will be instructed to leave the field and bench area immediately. Visiting payers and coaches will proceed to their team vehicle(s). All activities will be suspended until 20 minutes after the last lightning strike is detected in a less than 8 mile radius. All players, personnel and spectators should remain inside until the “all clear” signal is given by the PA announcer (upon notification from the Athletic Training Staff or administrator on site). Play will resume only after the “all clear” signal has been given.
     

    Clowson Field (Baseball and Softball)

    A public service announcement will be made before any game being played on a day that severe weather is likely to occur. Once lightning has been detected within the eight mile range of the Sky Scan lightning detector or within the allotted flash-to-bang time (40 seconds), the spectators will be directed to exit the stands and seek shelter in their cars. The players and coaches will be instructed to leave the field and dugout areas immediately. Dugouts are not a safe shelter from lightning. All activities will be suspended until 20 minutes after the last lightning strike is detected in a less than 8 mile radius. All players, personnel and spectators should remain in their cars until the “all clear” signal is given by the PA announcer (upon notification from the Athletic Training Staff or administrator on site). Play will resume only after the “all clear” signal has been given.


    Capital University Tennis Courts

    Upon notification from the athletic trainer on site, the head coach or selected game official will warn participants and spectators that severe weather is likely to occur. Once lightning has been detected by the Sky Scan within the eight mile range or within the allotted flash-to-bang eight mile range (40 seconds), participants and spectators will be instructed to immediately clear the courts and bleachers and seek shelter. The teams and officials will take shelter in the Harry C. Moores Campus Center or team vehicle(s). The spectators will be instructed to seek shelter in their personal vehicles. All activities will be suspended until 20 minutes after the last lightning strike is detected in the less than 8 mile radius. The “all clear” signal will be given by the head coach or selected game official (upon notification from the Athletic Training Staff or administrator on site). Play will resume only after the “all clear” signal has been given.


    Multi-Purpose Grass Field (Football and Soccer Practice; Intramural and Club Sports)

    Visiting and home players should seek shelter in the Harry C. Moores Campus Center or team vehicle(s).


    Golf

    The severe weather policies prescribed by the golf course at which our team is playing will be followed. The recommended course of action is to exit the golf course and head to the clubhouse at the FIRST SIGHT of lighting.


    Practices

    For outdoor practices not covered by an Athletic Training Staff member and/or when a hand-held lightning detector is not available, all sports will follow the “IF YOU SEE IT, FLEE IT RULE” as recommended by the National Lightning Safety Institute. The interpretation of this rule states that if you can see lightning, you need to immediately flee the area and seek shelter in a safe place.