Summer brings an increased chance of thunderstorms and, in some cases, dangerous lightning strikes. In fact, this week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, as designated by the National Weather Service.

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According to NWS, 23 people were killed by lightning in the U.S. last year. None of those, however, were in New Jersey. Statistics indicate 85 percent of lightning victims are children and young men between the ages of 10 and 35 who are involved in either work or recreation.

Mount Holly NWS meteorologist Kristin Kline said residents cannot let their guards down in a bad storm.

"Staying outdoors is really the worst option," said Kline, who suggested hurrying inside or into a car. "It's not safe to be on a porch, because you're not fully enclosed and protected by the walls of the building."

If you are unfortunate and get caught outdoors in a lightning storm, try to minimize your risk by seeking a place of lower elevation. Lightning will always strike the highest point in an area as it seeks a path to ground.

To protect yourself and your home's electrical appliances, you may also want to consider a whole-house surge protector. It will reduce the risk of damage or fire in the home.

When lightning is around, avoid lakes, beaches or open water, or fishing from a boat or a dock.

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