What Are the Risks of Lightning Related Injuries? What Are the Legal Rights of the Injured Child?


On many sports fields and park facilities, there is a safety device that can and does save lives and protect children participating in youth sport programs – the lightning detector. While lightning related injuries are not as common as other types of injuries at parks and schools, lighting related injuries and deaths do take place and, in some cases, are preventable with the use of a lightning detector and close monitoring of weather patterns and conditions. When a lightning detector goes off, all children, parents, and coaches should vacate the field and seek shelter. It should noted that some covered pavillons at parks and sports facilities are not necessarily safe shelters during lightning storms. Many safety advocates recommend that parents, coaches, and children seek shelter in an indoor facility or in a vehicle. The goal of any school, sports organization, club, and municipality should be the safety of children. Some sports teams (including competitive ones) may be tempted to run a practice or a game even when there is bad weather and the presence / threat of lightning. While in most instances, lightning will not necessarily strike at a particular location —– sports directors, coaches, and organizers should not run a practice / game by statistics. Instead, the focus should be on safety. Lightning detectors can help remove some of the decision making in canceling or delaying a practice. Furthermore, a park or club policy and procedure should be in place for the use, maintenance, and response to a lightning detector.

In Fort Myers, Florida, a tragic death was recently reported. The Orlando Sentinel and other news outlets reported that Jesse Watlington, age 11, died as a result of being struck by lightning. Jesse was struck by lightning while participating at a practice at the McGregor Baptist Church. For more information regarding this incident – see Boy Dies as a Result of Lightning Related Injuries in Fort Myers, Florida. The death of Jesse Watlington was a tremendous loss for the family, church, school, and community.

While lightning related personal injuries are not as common as other types of child injuries, these injuries continue to take place and are reported. The death of Jesse Watlington shows the dangers of lightning and the importance of other sports facilities and parks following safety protocols when dealing or monitoring stormy weather.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Sports Related Injuries, Playground Injuries, School Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, and other topics. Get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

Another good resource for parents is the book – When a Parent’s World Goes from Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About The Florida Wrongful Death Act. You can receive this book for free at From Full to Empty.

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