Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Thunderstorms and lightning are a common phenomenon around the United States. They can do major damage to individual properties as well as ignite fast-moving forest fires that threaten many at once. The cloud-to-ground lightning strikes at the center of these thunder storms can be very dangerous to you and your family whether you’re indoors or out. To help stay safe from thunderstorms and lightning storms, consider these five safety tips:

  1. Don’t pick up the phone: Avoid using the telephone during a thunder and lightning storm, especially the corded variety, unless it’s an absolute emergency. Cell phones are safe, but don’t leave them plugged in to charge as a lightning strike could cause damage.
  2. Don’t proceed with indoor chores: Your home’s electrical and plumbing systems can be conductive dangers when lightning strikes, so stop any related activities if you know that a storm is on its way. All electrical equipment such as televisions, computers and appliances should be shut down and unplugged, as should your air conditioner, which can end up with a damaged compressor if there’s a lightning-induced power surge. Also avoid tasks that involve contact with pipes or running water – that means no use of sinks or showers, and no laundry chores. Finally, stay away from windows and doors, and don’t lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  3. Thunderstorm Safety TipsDon’t send pets outside: Outdoor doghouses aren’t usually lightning-safe shelters, so be sure to bring all pets indoors before a storm.
  4. Don’t go outside: You may be tempted to get a closer look at a storm’s spectacle, but don’t do it. Stay off of your porch or deck and stick to safe zones indoors. If you’re already outdoors when a storm looms, quickly get to the shelter of a large, fully enclosed building (partially enclosed structures such as sheds, pavilions and carports aren’t safe options) or an enclosed metal vehicle. If neither of these is immediately possible, make sure you’re far away from any isolated trees or other tall objects, metal items such as poles and fences, and any recreational equipment that contains metal, like your bike or backpack. Instead of lying flat on the ground when trapped in an open area outdoors, get into the “lightning crouch” posture by putting your feet together, squatting low, tucking your head and covering your ears.
  5. Don’t stay on the road: To stay safe in a thunder or lighting storm,It’s best not to be on the road if you can help it, but if you’re caught in one, use care and common sense. Pull off to the shoulder of the road in a spot that’s well away from trees or anything else that could fall on your car. Turn on your emergency flashers and remain in the car until the storm passes, avoiding all metal surfaces inside the vehicle in the meantime.

For more thunderstorm safety tips, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.

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