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Letter: County lightning policy ineffective, dangerous

October 9, 2012

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I can appreciate that when discussing the "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" policy, Donna Franklin, Lightning Safety Program Lead for the National Weather Service, would expound on the dangers associated with lightning (letter, Sept. 20). After all, that is her government job.

However, she totally missed the point of the need for a cost/benefit and effectiveness analysis of the "cure" versus the cost. I do not begrudge the cost of putting up a few signs as long as they do not add to sign pollution nor overload. However, currently about 27 percent of the Maryland population is obese, and that number is predicted to go up to 55 percent by 2030 if we stay the present course. Obesity is very related to the occurrence of chronic ailments and quality of life, and will overwhelm our medical system if left unchecked. We need to have most of the population exercising more and getting maximal use of our playing fields.

What Donna did not see while the games were delayed were the many kids put in more danger touching metal fences and bleachers while waiting out the faint thunder event, the many parents just milling around waiting for the games to continue, the other teams scheduled later forced to wait for their games to begin, and the likelihood that some latter games might need to be canceled if it got too late. All of these people were waiting outside without any shelter.

From 1990 to 2003 all of Maryland lost only 12 people to lightning (less than one per year), and even the best of preventive policies would only eliminate a few of them. We do not need such a mandatory "one size fits all situations" draconian policy providing little benefit if any for such a low occurrence event.

There were two park rangers present and each team had a coach. These responsible individuals could have postponed the field activities if they deemed it wise. We certainly do not need ineffective nor dangerous bureaucratic regulations imposed on us.

Russ Swatek

Long Reach