Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Lightning 2

Before Lightning is About to Strike

  • Watch the sky for approaching dark clouds, increasing winds, and flashes of light.
  • Listen for thunder.
  • If thunder can be heard, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, and you should take shelter immediately.
  • Keep up to date on weather forecasts through local TV stations and NOAA Weather Radio.

Steps to Take as a Storm Approaches

  • Seek shelter in a building or vehicle (avoid convertibles). Keep windows closed.
  • Avoid using electrical equipment/appliances, and preferably, unplug things such as televisions, air conditioners, and computers. Electrical lines are excellent conductors of electricity. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
  • Do not take baths or showers during storms, as water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Use as little water as possible during storms.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows as a precaution to prevent windows from shattering into your home, should they be broken by blowing debris.

If You are Caught Outdoors

  • Attempt to seek shelter in a vehicle or building.
  • If no structure is available, stay as low to the ground as possible. In the woods, find a group of smaller trees. Avoid standing under single tall trees. Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas.
  • Get as small as you can be crouching on your knees on the ground.
  • Remember to avoid tall structures, such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power lines. Also avoid golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, and camping equipment. All are excellent electrical conductors.
  • Stay away from all types of bodies of water. If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, which indicates that lightning is about to strike, drop your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

Stuck in a Vehicle

  • Find a same place on the side of the road and pull over. Make sure there are not any trees that could blow over onto the car.
  • Put on emergency flashers, especially during heavier rains.
  • Remain in the car, only leaving in the case of a flash flood.
  • Watch for possible flash flooding. Should you notice the beginnings of flooding, abandon your vehicle, and seek higher ground immediately.
  • Avoid flooded roadways.

Safety Steps to Take Indoors

  • Secure outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture, that could blow away or cause damage or injury.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Do not use any electrical equipment or telephones, especially television sets. Lightning could follow the wire into the house, and do extensive damage to electrical equipment, such as air conditioners and TV's. Use telephones ONLY in an emergency.
  • Do not take a bath or shower. Metal pipes can transmit electricity.

If Someone is Struck by Lightning

  • People who have been struck by lightning can be cared for safety, and do not carry any type of electrical charge.
  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number.
  • Look of burn marks on the victims body where the charge both entered and exited. Lightning strikes can also cause neurological damage, broken bones, and loss of sight or hearing.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look for and care for other possible injuries.

Source: National Weather Service, NOAA