Although summer is slowly coming to end, late summer storms often arise quickly and without much warning. Storms and lightning are a very real threat. Houses can be blown apart by lightning strikes, falling trees can damage people and property. What you were told as a child about staying safe during a storm still rings true today and we’d like to take a few moments to remind you how you can help reduce your risks during the next thunderstorm. The following are simple reminders on staying safe from lightning and during a storm.
When the Storm is On its Way
There are many phases to staying safe around lightning. Obviously, the first step is realizing a storm is on its way. We’ve all been out enjoying a late summer day and suddenly realize the sky is turning dark or you hear thunder rolling into the distance. It’s easy to ignore it and hope it passes, but in all reality, you should never ignore it! Begin acting immediately.
-If you hear thunder, lightning can strike, head towards a shelter immediately.
-Be sure to steer clear of high ground or places like the top of a hill or a mountain, or utility pole. Lightning is always looking for the closest thing to strike. The higher you are to the sky, the closer you are to lightning.
-Many believe it is a safe idea to take shelter under a tree if caught outdoors during a storm, however, the opposite is true. Trees are often struck by lightning.
During the Storm
Hopefully by the time the storm is full blown you and your family are safe and dry inside a solid building, but even if you’re caught outside, here’s what you need to know:
-Stay off the phone! Turn off the television! Power down your computer. If lightning strikes, if lightning strikes you don’t want it to be on anything electrical.
-Do not lean on concrete walls or stand on concrete floors. Electricity is easily conducted through them.
-If you’re stuck outside, do not lie flat on the ground. You would be more easily struck by the current even if lightning doesn’t hit you directly.
-Stay away from barbed wire fences, electrical lines, fences, or anything electrical that can conduct electricity.
-If stuck outside, always keep moving towards shelter, even if that means heading into your car for safety.
When the Storm Has Passed
All threats are not necessarily over because the storm has passed or that the rain has stopped. Assuming you had taken shelter, do not leave for at least 30 minutes after the last time you hear thunder. By doing so, you know the danger from a lightning strike has truly passed. Just like when the storm was about to start, if you can hear thunder, lightning is usually close behind. Storms and lightning can destroy trees and homes in an instant. It’s always better to be slightly inconvenienced than risk the threat of lightning to you and your family.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against lightning and storms is to monitor the weather and postpone or cancel outdoor activities when thunderstorms are in the forecast. Lightning can strike from as far away as 10 miles!