Lightning kills about 65 people a year in Cuba, the country's Institute of Geophysics and Astronomy revealed this week, with most fatalities occuring during the cyclone season, from June to November.
The number of deaths by lightning in the island nation is higher than in all but six other nations, with a total of 1,682 people dying as a result of the weather phenomenon between 1979 and 2013. By contrast, 58 Cubans died from gunshot wounds in 2011, according to the Latin American Social Sciences Institute.
Instead of gun safety, then, Cuban authorities are focused on educating the public on the threat posed by thunder storms, with officials recommending citizens avoid opens spaces and bodies of water like rivers, ocean, lakes and swimming pools during electrical storms.
Cuba ranks seventh in lighting fatalities in the world, after Mexico, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil, Romania and Colombia.
A 2014 report from the Atmospheric Electricity Group (ELAT), a division of Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology about lightning-related deaths in 10 Latin American countries, found that droughts caused by El Niño could partly explain the increase in lightning deaths in the past 30 years, with warmer, drier air resulting in more thunder storms.