WESTWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Three people died in New Jersey last year after being struck by lightning. So, now some towns are investing money on systems that can do a better job detecting dangerous storms.
Lighting can strike even when a storm is far off and the murmur of thunder seems distant. Last year in Demarest, on a sunny day, a bolt out of the blue killed a grandfather at a soccer game.
In 2006, lightning killed two teens on a field in Montvale.
More and more North Jersey towns are investing in lightning detection systems. Weather stations pick up electrical storms approaching and sound sirens at parks, fields, and playgrounds.
Westwood Mayor John Birkner says they just might share a system with Emerson and Washington Township.
Of course, once a storm is detected, the second part of the equation is having an evacuation plan.
“It has to be coupled with a plan. I mean, you can have all the bells and sirens that you want, but if you don’t have a plan, a safety plan in place for each of the facilities, it really doesn’t work and everybody needs to be educated,” Birkner told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
That also means knowing that dugouts, gazebos, and picnic shelters do not provide adequate protection from lightning.
“I think it’s a responsibility of the municipalities to make sure that people who are using public facilities understand the risks and the dangers,” Birkner said.
Nearby, Tenafly just went out to bid on a system and Creskill just installed a lightning detection system.
The Record reported that Wayne, Rutherford, Ridgefield, and Dumont were among towns which already have lightning detection systems.