It’s a team effort to protect athletes from lightning strikes, City of El Paso Parks and Rec officials say

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – When a lightning storm is close it’s up to school districts and school coaches to keep student-athletes safe from lightning strikes.

However, city league sports don’t have the same resources as school districts, which makes things more complicated.

A sports manager for the City of El Paso says it’s a team effort to keep everyone safe while watching a city league play or practice and it all starts with being prepared.

Parks and Recreation staff regularly check the weather forecast to determine whether a large storm is coming and if games need to be canceled in advance.

In the event that a large storm is set to come in, the parks and rec department will send out a mass email and/or text message to city league coaches.

If games are not canceled ahead of time and a storm is in the area, the sports manager says it is up to the umpires and any city staff at each location to determine if there is a threat.

“We use what is called a flashbang method if we do see lightning in the distance or thunder,” said Hawk Scott, sports manager for the City of El Paso. “If you see lightning out there you’ll start a count and once you hear the clap of thunder you divide it by five and that will tell you more or less how far that storm is from you.”

Anything that is nine miles or farther is being monitored at the site and if it becomes eight miles or closer the field is evacuated, Scott said.

The game or practice can continue 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in the area, Scott said.

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