All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Other associated dangers of thunderstorms can include strong winds, hail and flash floods. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.
Before Thunderstorms and Lightning
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Get inside a home, building or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
- Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
- Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
Avoid the following:
- Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area
Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water
Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas
Anything metal-tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
- IF you are in a forest THEN seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
- IF you are in an open area THEN go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods. IF you are in open water THEN get to land and find shelter immediately
- IF you are anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike) THEN squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself he smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground.
- DO NOT lie flat on the ground.