Stormy weather in March 2006 over Oahu brought us thunder, lightning and potential tornados. The weather has changed on the islands and we are now faced with a new challenge to deal with in making decisions on the safety of games.
The USSF instruction called the 30/30 rule should be reviewed by all referees. The instruction will be summarized here.
Although our State has never reported any fatalities or injuries due to lightning this is now a new threat that must be dealt with due to our ever changing weather. Statistically it has been documented that there are more multi lightning casualties to males with the median age of 16 years due to games continuing during rainfall with lightning in soccer than any other outdoor sport.
The 30/30 Rule was adopted due to the alarming statistics by the NCAA in 1998, the American Meteriology Society in 2003 and by USSF in 2005. As you ask yourself why think about the reasons a referee would cancel a match vs other sporting events such as baseball, softball, football or golf.
April 6, 2005 USSF Position Paper provides guidelines in dealing with lightning, windstorms and severe weather conditions.
Always check with League,Coaches, Park or tournament officials when considering cancelling a game due to extreme weather conditions. Common sense and the safety of players, coaches and spectators should always prevail.
1. Recognize the threat–Apply the 30/30 Rule. When you see lightning count the time until you hear thunder. If the time is 30 seconds or less seek proper shelter. If you cannot see the lightning but just hear the thunder this is a good back up rule. Wait 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving shelter.
2. Remember that if you hear thunder you are in reach of lightning striking.There is never one with out the other. Just because you dont see lightning does not mean the threat is not there.
3. Seek proper shelter
a. No place outside is safe
b. The best place is a fully enclosed building. A second choice is a solid metal roof vehicle.
4. If there is no proper shelter stay away from the most dangerous locations: high up on a hill, open fields, near/under trees, poles, light post, electrical towers, unprotected buildings, rain shelters, bus stops, anything made of metal such as metal fences, metal bleachers, metal chairs.
5. If you cannot avoid these locations crouch low to the ground with your head tucked into your chest and hands over your ears.
6. If someone is hit remember all deaths are a result of cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation are recommended first aid. Referees shoudl only become involved if they have proper training or are Red Cross certified.
6. Remain calm and try to prevent panic above all.