Thunderstorm & Lightning Facts and Safety Tips
Lightning is one of the leading causes of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.
In 2022, an Ohio resident was struck and killed by lightning while working on his vehicle. Lightning most often strikes people who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities. You can protect yourself from severe thunderstorms.
Have a lightning safety plan.
- If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity.
- Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter.
- Don’t forget the 30-30 rule. After seeing lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
- If no shelter is available, crouch low, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly up to, and exceeding, 100 feet away.
- Avoid concrete floors and walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
Prepare Before the Storm
- Know your area’s risk for lightning. Spring and summer are typical seasons for thunderstorms, though they can occur year-round and at any hour.
- Sign up for your local emergency notification system or download a weather app. The Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- Cut down or trim trees that are at risk of falling onto your home.
- Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances and electronic devices.
Survive During the Storm
- When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! - A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
- Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change or postpone your outdoor plans.
- If a thunderstorm warning has been issued for your area or you hear thunder, go inside immediately.
- Get out and away from bodies of water. If boating, fishing or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
- If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and telephone lines.
- Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture, if there is time.
- Never drive or walk-through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don’t Drown®. It takes just six inches of fast-moving water to knock down an adult, and just 12 inches of moving water can float cars.
Be Safe After the Storm
- Listen to local authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside or for any instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
- Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going back outside after the storm.
- Stay away from fallen trees as they may have electric lines mixed with the branches.
- Report downed lines immediately.
- Contact your utility provider to make them aware of power outages. Don’t assume a neighbor will call.
Helping a Lightning-Strike Victim
If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch. Knowing first aid measures, which include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), can help save a life. American Red Cross chapters and local fire departments often offer first aid and CPR classes.
Protect Your Pets and Livestock
Many outside livestock shelters and dog houses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained to trees or wire runners can easily fall victim to lightning strikes. Consider the safety of pets and livestock and move them out of harm’s way before the storm arrives.
2022 Lightning Fatalities by State- Source: NOAA