Lightning can happen any day of the year, but it’s more common during spring and summer thunderstorms.
No place outdoors is entirely safe from lightning. If you can’t get inside a structure with four walls, a car or other vehicle is your best bet for safety.
Most lightning fatalities and serious injuries take place during the month of July. They’re also more likely to happen on lakes and rivers or sporting fields.
Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up.
Don’t forget the 30-30 rule. After you see 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 you are caught in an open area, act quickly to find adequate shelter. The most important action is to remove yourself from danger.
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks.
- Never lie flat on the ground. Crouch down in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ears so that you are down low with minimal contact with the ground.
- Never shelter under an isolated tree.
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
- Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (such as barbed wire fences, power lines, or windmills).
- Stay away from concrete floors or walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
Safety precautions indoors
Being indoors does not automatically protect you from lightning. In fact, about one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors. Here are some tips to keep safe and reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while indoors.
- Avoid contact with water during a thunderstorm. Do NOT bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing.
- Avoid using electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems.
- Avoid using corded phones. Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm.
- Avoid concrete floors and walls. Do NOT lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
Lightning strikes may be rare, but they still happen and the risk of serious injury or death is severe. Take thunderstorms seriously
Here’s more about lightning and what to do when lightning threatens.