Spring and summer are peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena – lightning. But don’t’ be fooled; lightning strikes year round. With this year’s unseasonably warm temperatures, it makes good sense to think about what you should do if you’re caught in a lightning storm.
According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, here’s what you should do:
- Plan your evacuation and safety measures in advance. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. If you’re outside, now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. Lightning often precedes rain, so don’t wait for the rain to begin before suspending your activities and seeking shelter.
- If you’re outdoors, avoid water; high ground and open spaces; and all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully-enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck, or van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you’re outside, you should:
-- Crouch down. Put your feet together. Place your hands over your ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.
-- Avoid proximity to other people. If you can, stay at least 15 feet apart from other people.
- If you’re indoors, avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Don’t use the telephone. Take off head sets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools and TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.
- Suspend activities for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.
- If someone is struck by lightning, administer first aid to the victim if you’re qualified to do so. Injured persons don’t carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Call 9-1-1 or send for help immediately.
- Know your emergency telephone numbers.