When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

June, July and August are the deadliest months for lightning. Thunderstorms are most numerous in the summer and more people spend more time outside during this three-month period. Each year in the United States, more than 400 people are struck by lightning. On average, between 55 and 60 people are killed; hundreds of others suffer permanent neurological disabilities. Most of these tragedies can be avoided with a few simple precautions. When thunderstorms threaten, get to a safe place. Lightning safety may be an inconvenience but can save your life.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects information on weather-related deaths to learn how to prevent these tragedies. Many lightning victims say they were “caught” outside in the storm and couldn’t get to a safe place. With proper planning, these tragedies could be prevented. Other victims waited too long before seeking shelter. By heading to a safe place 5 to 10 minutes sooner, they could have avoided being struck by lightning. Some people were struck because they went back outside too soon. Stay inside a safe building or vehicle for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder clap. Finally, some victims were struck inside homes or buildings while they were using electrical equipment or corded phones. Others were in contact with plumbing, a metal door or a window frame. Avoid contact with these electrical conductors when a thunderstorm is nearby!

All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Many lightning deaths occur ahead of storms or after storms have seemingly passed. Don’t be fooled by blue skies! If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat.

Have a lightning safety plan. 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.

If you hear thunder, don’t use a corded phone except in an emergency. Cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use. Keep away from electrical equipment and wiring.

Remember that water pipes conduct electricity. Don’t take a bath or shower or use other plumbing during a storm. When outside, don’t be the tallest object in the area. Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an area.

Pay attention to these safety tips to have a safer summer!

Source: American Red Cross