One of the deadliest weather phenomena in the United States is lightning. According to the National Weather Service, an average of 51 people are killed each year by lightning and hundreds more are severely injured. But there are ways to stay out of harms way. Here is some vital safety information from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
When Dangerous Weather Approaches: Avoid the Lightning Threat
Have a lightning safety plan
- Know where you’ll go for safety and how much time it will take to get there.
- Make sure your plan allows enough time to reach safety.
- Know Before You Go: Detailed 7 Day Futurecast
- Link: NOAA Thunderstorm & Tornado Preparedness Guide
- Before going outdoors, check the forecast for thunderstorms.
- Consider postponing activities to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
Monitor the weather
- Look for signs of a developing thunderstorm such as darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind.
- Monitor Live Pinpoint Doppler 12 Radar
Get to a safe place
- When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, immediately move to a safe place.
- Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing provide the best protection.
- Sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do not protect you from lightning.
- If a sturdy building is not nearby, get into a hard-topped metal vehicle and close all the windows.
- Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. Cellular or cordless phones are safe to use.
- Avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower or wash dishes.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
- Do not unplug electrical equipment during a storm, as there is a risk you could be struck.
- The American Meteorological Society has tips for protecting electronics from lightning.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
- Never lie flat on the ground
- Never shelter under an isolated tree
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
- Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
- NOAA has more information on its website concerning outdoor activities and thunderstorms, including more specific details for sports teams, beach, camping, and bikers.
After a Thunderstorm
- Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas
- Avoid downed power lines and report them immediately
- Watch local TV news or listen to NOAA radio for updated information and instructions
- Help people who may require assistance, including infants, children, the elderly and disabled
- After the Storm: Power Outage Safety
- Lights Out: WPRI.com Power Outage Database
- Storm Ready: Disaster kit