Lightening Safety

Before the Storm

It is important to know how to recognize when you are at risk for a lightning storm. Knowing that a storm is coming will allow you to make plans to be indoors before the storm strikes.

  • Check the internet or TV/radio stations for the forecast before leaving the house
  • Check the radar and lightning detection sections of WeatherBug.com or other websites to see if storms are approaching.
  • Storms can form overhead, so always check the sky for large cumulus clouds as these are the first sign of thunderstorms.
  • If you feel like a storm is on its way, it is imperative to stop your outdoor activities and move to a safe indoor area.
  • Lightning can strike before the rain, so be someplace safe before the threat is upon you. To know the distance of a storm, use the 30-second rule. Count how many seconds from the flash until you hear thunder. If it is greater than 30 seconds, this means you are at least 6 miles away from the storm. If less than 30 seconds, this means you are in the threat area and you should take cover immediately.

Outside During a Storm

You should never be outside during a thunderstorm. If you are outside when a storm strikes, find shelter as soon as possible. If you are not near shelter during a thunderstorm, here are a few things you can do to greatly reduce your chances of being struck:

  • Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the area is not prone to flooding.
  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shortest trees.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • Be a very small target. Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Laying flat on the ground will actually make you a larger target.
Wait 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning was seen before it is safe to return to your activities.

Inside During a Storm

Indoors is the safest place during a storm; however, there are still hazards to watch out for.
  • Do not use corded phones. Lightning can travel through the phone lines and electrocute you.
  • Lightning can also travel through pipes. Do not take showers, baths, or wash dishes while a thunderstorm is occurring.
  • Have a flashlight and/or candles available. Power failures often occur during thunderstorms.
  • Unplug or turn off electronics. Lightning can cause damaging power surges.

Struck by Lightning

  • If you see someone get struck by lightning it is important that you help them as soon as possible.
  • A person struck by lightning carries no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Call for help by dialing 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
  • The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned. He/she could have burns where he/she was struck and where the electricity left his/her body.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR.