SEVERE WEATHER GUIDELINES
The Saint Louis Youth Soccer Association (SLYSA) follows the US Youth Soccer (USYS), Missouri Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) and Illinois Youth Soccer Association (IYSA) severe weather guidelines.
Lightning Safety for outdoor events
As the majority of soccer is played outdoors, lightning and severe weather pose a threat to player health and safety. When it comes to making decisions to suspend or cancel play due to weather condition, site managers, facility operations staff, coaches, officials, athletic trainers and administrators all share responsibility. These same individuals should be aware of close safe shelter locations and know how to evaluate when it is safe to resume play after severe weather leaves an area.
When should play be stopped?
In general, a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles. It’s important to account for the time it will take for everyone to get to safety. Here are some criteria that could be used to stop activities.
- If you see lightning. The ability to see lightning varies depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and obstructions such as trees, mountains, etc. In clear air, and especially at night, lightning can be seen from storms more than 10 miles away provided that obstructions don’t limit the view of the thunderstorm.
- If you hear thunder. Thunder can usually be heard for a distance of about 10 miles provided that there is no background noise. Traffic, wind, and precipitation may limit the ability to hear thunder to less than 10 miles. If you hear thunder, though, it’s a safe bet that the storm is within ten miles.
- If the skies look threatening. Thunderstorms can develop directly overhead and some storms may develop lightning just as they move into an area.
No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area. All activity should be suspended, even if lightning or thunder has not yet been observed, and everyone should get indoors. Communicate this information completely and quickly to all participants.
Consult the National Weather Service, the Storm Prediction Center or local media outlets for severe weather watches and warnings. Alerts can even be sent directly to your mobile device while you are on the field.
Safe locations should be available with enough capacity to hold all who may need safe shelter. A primary location would be a fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing. A fully enclosed vehicle with a solid metal roof be a safe secondary option. Open fields and open-sided shelters are not safe.
If it’s been half an hour since thunder, it’s safe to go outdoors. Outdoor activity may resume 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder or flash of lightning. The 30-minute clock restarts every time lightning flashes or thunder sounds.
What should be done if someone is struck by lightning?
If someone is injured by a lightning strike, follow these emergency management steps:
- Call 911 and alert emergency medical responders (EMS).
- Establish that the area is safe before moving to help victim. If there is more than one victim, first assist those who appear in the most severe condition.
- Move individual(s) carefully to a safe location (victims of lightning strikes are safe to touch and do not carry an electric charge).
- Initiate CPR on victims who are unconscious, not breathing or have no pulse. Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is available.
- Evaluate the individual(s) for additional injuries, such as broken bones or dislocations. Notify EMS of the potential injuries when they arrive on the scene.
- Under no circumstances should a player injured in a lightning strike return to the game or practice. Injured players should only be allowed to return to play after a thorough examination and release by a qualified physician.
Warning signs of a lightning strike:
- Feeling the hair stand on end
- Skin tingling
- Hearing crackling noises
If these occur, assume the lightning safe position:
- Crouch on the ground as low as you can
- Put all your weight on the balls of your feet
- Keep your feet together
- Lower head and cover your ears
- Do not lie flat on the ground
Some SLYSA league facilities have lightening detection equipment and Doppler radar connection availability at the complex to monitor and track approaching storms.
- It is SLYSA’s policy to alert the referees, players, coaches, and spectators in the park with one long air horn blast lasting for approximately 30 seconds, signaling to get off the field. (Other facilities may have a siren or other means of alerting visitors.)
- The all clear signal is one 15 second blast, followed by a brief pause, and another 15 second blast from the air horn.
- If you are at the complex, PLEASE get to your vehicle to seek shelter and remain in it until you are notified by your Coach that it is safe to return to the field for play.
Your vehicle is the safest place; avoid open shelters, high elevations, open areas, tall objects, metal bleachers, unprotected open buildings, rain shelters, trees, and light post or poles.
Referees will be notified by the Assignor when it is safe to return to the field. When the referees return to the field sideline, so can the coaches and players and the game will resume where suspended.
(Information from US Soccer & National Weather Service)