Lightning Safety Tips and How to Prevent Strikes

It happens often, the forecast calls for thunderstorms and you start to see the clouds roll in and the skies start to get a bit darker. Severe weather leading to dangerous conditions can strike at any time. Being prepared for severe weather can make all the difference when it comes to keeping you and your family safe. Even though, there’s only a 1 in 500,000 chance of being struck by lightning in a given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking precautions – especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors can help reduce your odds. Between 2004 and 2013, the CDC reported there were 33 lightning related deaths per year in the U.S. An estimated 300 people are struck each year by lightning. Consider these lightning safety tips and how to protect yourself and your loved ones when you’re caught in a storm. 

Seek Shelter

Spring and summer are popular times of the year to be outside. If you’re caught outside during a thunderstorm, you may want to go indoors or seek shelter when you hear the thunder rumble. The CDC recommends counting to 30 when you see lightning, if you hear thunder before you hit 30, pack up and go inside. However, depending on where you are, you may not have quick access to get indoors.

As you learn exactly what to do in a lightning storm It is important to note that finding shelter indoors doesn’t completely eliminate your risk for a lightning strike. About one-third of injuries caused by a lightning strike happen indoors, according to the CDC. It’s also recommended to stay indoors at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

Sheds, tents and pavilions are not recommended as smart lightning safety shelters, because they do not provide full protection.

Avoid concrete walls and floors

If you do head indoors or find shelter, the CDC recommends staying away from concrete floors and walls because lightning can travel through metal wires/bars that can be found in concrete walls/floors.

Unplug and avoid plumbing

During a thunderstorm, it’s a good idea to avoid corded phones and electronic equipment during a storm. Lightning can travel through lines, electrical systems and plumbing. It’s also recommended to avoid plumbing – taking a shower/bath, doing dishes, etc.

Don’t get stuck outside

If you’re not able to take cover, the CDC says to crouch low but try to limit how much of your body is touching the ground. Electrical currents can run through the top of the ground. If you’re outside when there’s lightning:

  • Keep away from metal conductors
  • Stay away from open areas – you don’t want to be the tallest object
  • Avoid isolated tall trees, poles or towers
  • Stay away from water – if you’re in a pool or body water, get out immediately
  • Don’t lie flat on the ground

Have an emergency plan

Having a lightning safety emergency plan is a good idea. You’ll want to factor in enough time to get to your safe place. Knowing how to reach your designated safety and precisely what to do in a lightning storm can help you prepare for any other natural disasters that follow.

Severe weather can happen without much warning. Be sure you are prepared and have emergency plans for different situations. Learn how you can plan ahead with one of our Farm Bureau agents.