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It's no shock that summer thunderstorms bring a lot of lightning.

More than 70% of all fatal lightning strikes in the U.S. occur in the summer months of June, July and August, according to the National Weather Service. More than 30% of all lightning deaths take place in July alone, making it the peak month for fatalities.

There have been nine fatal lightning strikes in the U.S. this year, according to National Weather Service records.

Lightning fatalities in the U.S. have been on the decline in recent years, and 2013 had a record low of 23 deaths, John Jensenius, a meteorologist and lightning expert with the National Weather Service, tells USA TODAY Network.

Greater public awareness about lightning safety is one of the main reasons for the decrease, Jensenius says, and more people are trained in CPR to help people who have been struck.

Still, lightning remains a real danger, especially in the summer when more people are engaged in outdoor activities far away from shelter, he said. Florida residents may want to be extra cautious, as the state often has the highest number of fatalities each year (there have been four this year already) and is considered the "lightning capital" of the U.S.

The main thing you can do to avoid being struck is to check forecasts and get to safety before the storm even arrives, Jensenius says. If you are caught in a storm, experts advise:

1. If you can hear any thunder, the storm is close enough to strike you. At that point you should immediately seek shelter. "Inside a house or an enclosed structure is the safest place to be," said Joseph Dwyer, a professor of physics and space sciences at Florida Institute of Technology.

2. If you can't reach a shelter immediately, avoid standing near tall objects or tall trees, which attract lightning. Keep in mind that most fatalities are not caused by direct lightning strikes but by lightning traveling through the ground. In those cases, "lightning strikes an object, comes down to the ground and travels along the ground surface" before striking someone, Jensenius said.

3. Administer CPR as soon as possible if someone you are with is struck. A lightning strike victim does not keep the electricity inside of them. "People that have been struck by lightning don't carry a charge. That's a myth. In fact, it's very important that they be attended to right away," Jensenius says.

4. An enclosed car (not a convertible) is a safe place to be in a thunderstorm, but not because of the rubber tires, which is a common misconception. A car is safe because of its metal shell. If struck, the metal frame will conduct electricity around the car, but not to the people inside. "It doesn't mean the car will survive real well, but the people inside are usually safe," Jensenius says.

5. Once you are inside, stay away from items connected to the wiring and plumbing. If your house is struck, electricity can travel through plumbing and wires. You don't want to be taking a shower or washing dishes when that happens, Jensenius says, because you can be struck. Similarly, you don't want to be talking on the phone or using an appliance that is connected to the wall.

6. Lightning can strike even after it appears that the storm has passed. "When it looks like the storm is dying down, wait 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder and lightning," Dwyer says.

More safety tips are available on the National Weather Service website.

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