AUSTIN - The week of June 24-30 has been designated as Lightning Awareness Week.

The National Weather Service reports that Texas ranks second only to Florida in the number of people killed by lightning. The number of Americans killed by lightning each year typically exceeds the number killed by tornadoes or hurricanes.

Electrical current from lightning moves along the ground and most people are injured by lightning that strikes nearby, rather than by direct lightning strikes. On average, six of every 10 victims of lightning strikes will survive; however, survivors may suffer painful effects for the rest of their lives.

Weather experts advise following the 30/30 lightning safety rule. A house or other substantial structure offers the best protection from lightning. Following a flash of lightning, go inside if you are not able to count 30 seconds before hearing thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. If you are in an urban area and can hear thunder above city noise, go inside. Remain indoors for 30 minutes following the last thunderclap heard.

More information on lightning is available at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov or www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.

Weather radios

A weather radio - about $20 for a no-frills model - can make a difference by providing instant access to the same weather reports and emergency information that meteorologists and emergency personnel use.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governorís Division of Emergency Management recommend that every home have a NOAA weather radio receiver. These receivers are equipped with a special alarm tone feature that can sound an alert and give immediate information about a life-threatening situation.

During an emergency, National Weather Service forecasters will interrupt routine weather radio programming and send out the special tone that activates weather radios in the listening area. Weather radios are especially valuable in places prone to tornado activities.

A weather radio transmits emergency information as well as around-the-clock weather reports and information to help people prepare for the day ahead. The hearing-and-visually impaired also can get these warnings by connecting weather radios with alarm tones to other kinds of attention-getting devices like strobe lights, pagers, bed-shakers, personal computers and text printers. A battery-operated weather radio will also advise of emergency conditions whether at home, at work, traveling, on vacation or at play.

To purchase a weather radio, check with stores that sell electronics or call the National Weather Service office closest to you. More information is available through the Weather Serviceís NOAA Weather Radio Web site online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.