Lightning Safety/ Severe Weather Policy
When thunder roars, go indoors!
The safety of players, coaches, management and spectators is the primary concern in any weather event
that occurs during all matches sanctioned by Canada Soccer. By understanding and following the below
information, 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
If you can hear thunder, you can get hit by lightning. As soon as you hear thunder, quickly get to a safe
location. More people are struck before and after a thunderstorm than during one. Stay inside for 30
minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
Please note the following recommendations from Environment Canada:
• To plan for a safe day, check the weather forecast first. If thunderstorms are forecast, avoid
being outdoors at that time or make an alternate plan. Identify safe places and determine how
long it will take you to reach them.
• Watch the skies for developing thunderstorms and listen for thunder. As soon as you hear
thunder, quickly get to a safe location. If you can hear thunder, you are in danger of being hit by
lightning. More people are struck before and after a thunderstorm than during one.
• Get to a safe place. A safe location is a fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing. Sheds,
picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do NOT protect you from lightning. If no sturdy building
is close by, get into a metal-roofed vehicle and close all the windows.
• Do not handle electrical equipment, telephones or plumbing. These are all electrical
conductors. Using a computer or wired video game system, taking a bath or touching a metal
window frame all put you at risk of being struck by lightning. Use battery-operated appliances
• If caught outdoors far from shelter, stay away from tall objects. This includes trees, poles,
wires and fences. Take shelter in a low-lying area but be on the alert for possible flooding.
Be aware of how close 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.
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.
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 location. 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, wait at least thirty (30) minutes after the last flash of lightning or sound of thunder before returning to the field.
First aid for lightning victims
Prompt, aggressive CPR has been highly effective for the survival of victims of lightning strikes.
• Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and can be safely handled.
• Call for help. Victims may be suffering from burns or shock and should receive medical attention
immediately. Call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service.
• Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Use an
automatic external defibrillator if one is available.
—as updated by Ontario Soccer 2017