Lighting is nature’s most powerful force, and can strike without warning. More than 400 people are struck by lightning in the United States each year. About 60 of these people are killed by lightning. More people are killed by lightning than hurricanes or tornadoes yet few people take precautions against lightning each time it storms like they would for a hurricane or tornado warning. Simply going inside will drastically reduce your chances of being struck by lightning during a storm.
All thunderstorms can cause lightning. If you hear thunder, lighting is likely, even if you haven’t seen it yet. Lightning can occur even if the sky is blue and the sun is out. Rain is not required for lighting to be a threat. Lightning often happens before the rain comes or after it has left, so rain or lack of it is not measure of the threat of lightning. Monitor the weather and plan activities when there is a very low likelihood of thunderstorms.
Your only defense against lightning is avoidance. If you hear thunder, feel rain or see the clouds rolling in for a storm, go inside. Enclosed buildings with plumbing and wiring provide your best protection from lightning. Tents, sheds and porches are not safe lighting shelters. Inside a car is a better choice in a storm if no building is available to shelter you from lightning. For safety sake, you should stay inside your shelter, building or car, for 30 minutes after the last thunder.
When you are safely inside, there are still rules to follow to avoid lightning strikes even while you are indoors. It’s true, you should not use the telephone during a storm. Cordless phone and cell phones are fine to use, but do not use a traditional telephone with a cord. Do not use electrical equipment and stay away from it. Since water pipes can conduct electricity, don’t bathe or shower or use other plumbing while it is storming.
If you are caught outside during a storm and cannot take shelter in a safe building or vehicle you can reduce your chances of being hit by lightning. Never be the tallest thing in an open area. Lighting will strike what is tallest in an area so even standing near a lone tree may make you a lightning target in a storm. Stay away from fences or wires. The best choice is always to take shelter in a building or vehicle, so monitor the weather and avoid taking chances of being caught outside in a storm.
The danger of lightning is so common that warnings are not issued for it. If you hear thunder, there is lightning. Take shelter and avoid the danger of lightning every time it storms.