Thunderstorms and Lightning: 4 Safety Tips You Need to Know

  • Jun 25, 2018

Thunderstorms and lightning are two very common yet dangerous weather events. These dangerous storms include lightning and can also bring powerful winds over 50 MPH, hail, flash flooding, and even tornadoes. Unlike hurricanes, which typically only impact coastal areas, thunderstorms can happen anywhere in the world.

Lightning is one of the leading causes of injury and death from weather-related hazards. While most lightning victims survive, the effects of a lightning strike can be lifelong. Victims often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, like:

  • Vision loss
  • Personality changes
  • Slower reaction times
  • Chronic pain
  • Ringing in ears
  • Depression


To protect yourself and the people you care about, please review the following thunderstorm and lightning safety tips. Remember, the best way to mitigate weather-related risks is to prepare.

READ NOW: Lightning Facts - Everything You Need to Know

1. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

The only way to 100% protect yourself from lightning is to enter a lightning safe shelter before it becomes a threat. If you know a thunderstorm is on its way, seek shelter in a sturdy building or a hard-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.

No place outdoors is safe during a thunderstorm. If no safe shelter is available at your location, you can only slightly reduce your risk of being struck. Do not seek shelter under tall, isolated trees, tall metal objects or partially enclosed structures. Structures that are not lightning safe include porches, picnic pavilions, golf carts, tents, and metal sheds.

2. Stay Safe Indoors

Once indoors, you must still be vigilant because there are still ways thunderstorms and lightning can harm you. There are a few things you should avoid indoors during a thunderstorm. The first is water. Lightning can travel through plumbing, so you should steer clear of activities like showering during a thunderstorm.

The second thing you should avoid is electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems as well as radio and television systems. This goes for corded phones as well. If you need to make a call during a thunderstorm, use a cordless phone or cell phone. The last thing you should avoid is concrete floors and walls. Stay away from these indoor items until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap.

3. Rely on Total Lightning Detection

The sooner you know a dangerous thunderstorm is on the way, the sooner you can get to safety. Total lightning networks generate the faster thunderstorm warnings because they detect both types of lightning.
When you think of lightning, you probably picture a bolt coming from the sky and hitting the ground. This is a cloud-to-ground strike. But did you know that only around 20% of all lightning strikes are cloud-to-ground? The other type of lightning is in-cloud lightning. In-cloud lightning strikes jump from cloud-to-cloud and make up the majority of all lightning discharges.

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Even though in-cloud lightning strikes can’t hit people on the ground, they are critical when it comes to predicting cloud-to-ground strikes, the direction of a storm, and other forms of severe weather like hail, micro-bursts, and flash flooding.

4. Help Right Away

If someone near you is struck by lightning, you should react right away. First, call 911. Then, if possible, move the victim to a safe area. Remember, lightning strike victims do not carry an electrical current! It is safe to touch them, move them, and perform CPR. If a storm is still overhead, you should worry about additional lightning strikes. If the person is not conscious and does not appear to be breathing normally, use an automated external defibrillator if on is on hand or start CPR. It’s also important to note that you should not remove burned clothing unless necessary. If the victim is conscious, treat them for shock. Lay the victim down with their head slightly lower than their torso and legs until help arrives.

More Thunderstorms and Lightning Information

If you have any additional thunderstorm and lightning safety tips you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments below. You can also learn more about thunderstorm and lightning safety with our National Lightning Safety Awareness Week 2018 Facebook Live series.