Thunderstorms and Lightning
- Facts About Thunderstorms
- Facts About Lightning
- How Can I Protect Myself From a Thunderstorm or Lightning?
All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include strong winds, hail, and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities, more than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. .
Facts About Thunderstorms
- They may occur singly, in clusters, or in lines.
- Some of the most severe occur when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.
- Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 3 0 minutes to an hour.
- Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
Facts About Lightning
- Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
- Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
- Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors.
- Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
How Can I Protect Myself From a Thunderstorm or Lightning
- What to do before a thunderstorm
- What to do during a thunderstorm
- What to do after a thunderstorm
What to Do Before a Thunderstorm
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- "If thunder roars, go indoors" because no place outside is safe when lightning is in the area. We want everyone to stay indoors until 30 minutes have passed after they hear the last clap of thunder.
Summary of Lightning Safety Tips for Inside the Home
- Avoid contact with corded phones
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
- Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
The following are guidelines for what you should do if a thunderstorm is likely in your area:
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
- Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
Avoid the following:
What to Do During a Thunderstorm
- Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
- Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
If you are:
In a forest
Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
In an open area
Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
On open water
Get to land and find shelter immediately.
Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike)
Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact it the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
What to Do After a Thunderstorm
The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:
- Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
- Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing and eyesight.