Schools and parks across Southwest Florida are equipped with lightning detection systems that warn athletes, students, coaches, teachers, parents and fans that foul weather is approaching. Lee County’s Earth Networks lightning alert system, for example, activates whenever lightning is detected within a 10-mile radius. County regulations require that everyone take immediate shelter until an all-clear signal is sounded.
While those systems can be seen by some as an inconvenience and disrupt games, practices and outdoor activities, the No. 1 goal is to keep everyone safe.
According to Vaisala’s Annual Lightning Report, Florida had 1,385,710 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in 2018. That means Florida had 9.34 flashes per square kilometer, which was the highest rate in the country, and once again proving why the Sunshine State’s second nickname is the “Lightning Capital of the U.S.”
Without the luxury of a blaring horn to signal an impending storm, how does Target Roofing ensure that our roofing crews stay safe during Florida’s rainy season? Eyes, ears and apps.
- Eyes: Working anywhere from 10 feet to 200 feet off the ground, our roofing crews often have a 360-degree view of the horizon and can watch as thunderclouds start building. Once they spot a lightning flash, it’s time to come down.
- Ears: With their backs turned, it’s not always possible to see lightning in the distance, but the rumble from thunder likely means a storm is approaching. If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be hit by lightning. Again, that’s time to come down from the roof.
- Apps: Our roofing crews and supervisors use several apps that monitor radar and utilize lightning detection systems. My Lightning Tracker, WeatherBug, Storm Alert Lightning & Radar and AccuWeather are among the most popular severe weather apps. Employees can receive alerts based on their location, so a crew working in Marco Island, for instance, might have to take shelter while their counterparts in Fort Myers can continue to work under blue skies.
The last place you want to be with lightning nearby is on a roof. That’s why we have our roofing crews start early and finish early, hoping to get a full day’s work completed before the afternoon storms roll into Southwest Florida. Although this region’s weather is unpredictable, our crews report to work early in the morning with the goal of finishing by mid- to late-afternoon.
Just because lightning and rain have passed doesn’t mean our crews are immediately cleared to resume their jobs. Rainwater makes roofs slippery, particularly metal roofing, and even though our crews wear safety harnesses at all times, we want to make sure their footing is solid.
Weather awareness is a key element of our comprehensive safety training programs that each employee must complete. Target Roofing contracts with an independent company to offer additional safety instruction and recommendations, and we proactively schedule reviews from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to outline safety recommendations at job sites.
Safety has always been paramount at Target Roofing, particularly during rainy season. We would much rather have our employees go home early or take a long lunch break when skies darken rather than to risk their lives, or your project, with thunderstorms in the area.