Did you know that on average, 53 people are killed and hundreds are severely injured each year due to lightning?
It is important to keep in mind that no place is safe outside when a thunderstorm occurs (see Myths Section below). People often wait far too long to get to a safe place when a storm approaches. The best way to be safe from lightning is to avoid the threat and immediately find an indoor shelter.
But most importantly, “When thunder roars, go indoors,” no matter what time of year it is.
This quick video will show you the steps to take during thunder and lightning storms so you and your family stay safe this summer.
Here are more useful tips on how to prepare ahead of time, what to do during any thunderstorm, and how to handle any emergencies after a lightning strike to a person or structure.
Avoid tall and isolated objects. They are the most likely to be struck by lightning.
Avoid contact with corded phones and devices. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are alright to use.
Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes, or do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park the vehicle. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
If someone is struck by Lightning:
Call 9-1-1 immediately
Check for breathing – if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Check for a heartbeat – if the heart has stopped, begin CPR.
Check for other injuries, such as broken bones or loss of hearing and eyesight.
It is okay to give first aid without fear of being hurt; the victim will not carry and electrical charge.
Wait 30 minutes before you go outdoors, remain cautious and remember that lightning can strike 10 miles away from a storm.
Stay away from downed power lines.
Monitor weather for other severe storms.
Check on elderly and children who may need help.
If storms are in your area, but skies happen to be clear above you, don’t assume you’re safe. Lightning can strike many miles away from the thunderstorm. In fact it is not uncommon for lightning to strike 10 to 15 miles away from the edge of a storm.
Just because you have taken shelter inside, you are not automatically safe. While inside waiting out a storm, avoid using the telephone or electrical appliances and do not take showers or baths. Also stay away from doors and windows. Telephone lines, cords, plumbing, even metal window and door frames are all lightning conductors and pose a threat.
Rubber soles of 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. Although you may still be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
Injured persons DO NOT carry an electrical charge and can be assisted safely. If qualified to do so, apply first aid procedures to a lightning victim. Call 911 or send for help immediately. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information on CPR and first aid classes.
Do not seek shelter under a tree. If you are in an open field, the best thing to do is lay flat on the ground. Lightning tends to strike the tallest structure it can find.