Lightning Safety / Severe Weather Policy
The safety of players, coaches, management and spectators is the primary
concern in any weather event that occurs during all matches sanctioned
by the CSA.
By understanding and following the information below, the safety of
everyone shall be greatly increased. Ultimately the referee has the
final say over delaying or restarting a match due to weather. Waiting to
stop play or not waiting to start play may result in a serious injury
or loss of life. Referees are expected to act responsibly when dealing
with such events during matches they are controlling
When lightning is detected, you can determine the distance of lightning
in your area by counting the number of seconds between the flash and the
first sound of the thunder and dividing by five(5). This will give you
the distance in miles from your location. Remember, if you are in a
higher elevation, the lightning can come upon you much quicker and your
reaction time is greatly hindered.
When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If this
time is thirty (30) seconds or less, seek proper shelter. Wait thirty
(30) minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving the
shelter. If you can not see the lightning, just hearing the thunder is a
good back up rule.
Please note the following recommendations from Environment Canada:
The existence of blue sky and absence of rain are not protection from
lightning. Lightning can and does strike as far as ten (10) miles away
from the rain shaft. It does not have to be raining for lightning to
strike. Many lightning casualties occur in the beginning, as the storm
approaches, because many people ignore initial precursors of high winds,
some rainfall and cloud cover. Generally, the lightning threat
diminishes with time after the last sound of thunder, but may persist
for more than thirty (30) minutes.
Lightning can strike ahead of the parent cloud – take action even if the thunderstorm is not overhead.
Be aware of how close lightning is occurring. The flash-to-bang method
is the easiest and most convenient way to estimate how far away
lightning is occurring. Thunder always accompanies lightning, even
though its audible range can be diminished due to background noise in
the immediate environment and its distance from the observer.
Lightning awareness should be increased with the first flash of
lightning or the first clap of thunder, no matter how far away. This
activity must be treated as a wake-up call to all. The most important
aspect to monitor is how far away the lightning is occurring, and how
fast the storm is approaching, relative to the distance of a safe
Recognize that personal observation of lightning may not be sufficient.
Additional weather information may be required to ensure consistency,
accuracy and adequate advance warning.
When larger groups are involved, the time needed to properly evacuate an
area increases. As time requirements change, the distance at which
lightning is noted and considered a threat to move into the area must be
increased. Extending the range used to determine threat potential also
increases the chance that a localized cell or thunderstorm may not reach
the area giving the impression of a “false alarm”.
Know where the closest “safe structure or location” is to the field or
playing area and know how long it takes to get to that safe structure or
Safe structure or location is defined as:
Any building normally occupied or frequently used by people,
i.e., a building with plumbing and / or electrical wiring that acts to
electrically ground the structure. Avoid using shower facilities for
safe shelter and do not use the showers or plumbing facilities during a
thunderstorm.In the absence of a sturdy, frequently inhabited building,
any vehicle with a hard metal roof (not a convertible or golf cart) and
rolled-up windows can provide a measure of safety. A vehicle is
certainly better than remaining outdoors. It is not the rubber tires
that make a vehicle a safe shelter, but the hard metal roof which
dissipates the lightning strike around the vehicle. Do not touch the
sides of any vehicle!
If no safe structure or location is within a reasonable distance, find a
thick grove of small trees surrounded by taller trees or a dry ditch.
Assume a crouched position on the ground with only the balls of the feet
touching the ground, wrap your arms around your knees and lower your
head. Minimize contact with the ground because lightning current often
enters a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead
strike. Minimize your body’s surface area and the ground! Do not lie
flat! If unable to reach safe shelter, stay away from the tallest trees
or objects such as light poles or flag poles), metal objects (such as
fences or bleachers), individual trees, standing pools of water, and
open fields. Avoid being the highest object in a field. Do not take
shelter under a single, tall tree.
Avoid using the telephone, except in emergency situations. People have
been struck by lightning while using a land-line telephone. A cellular
phone or a portable remote phone is a safe alternative to land-line
phones, if the person and the antenna are located within a safe
structure or location, and if all other precautions are followed.
When considering resumption of any athletics activity, it is recommended
that everyone should ideally wait at least thirty (30) minutes after
the last flash of lightning or sound of thunder before returning to the
People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical
charge. Therefore, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is safe for the
responder. If possible, an injured person should be moved to a safer
location before starting CPR. Lightning-strike victims who show signs of
cardiac or respiratory arrest need emergency help quickly. Prompt,
aggressive CPR has been highly effective for the survival of victims of
For additional information the following website is helpful: