Staying Safe During a Thunderstorm
Severe thunderstorms can cause dangerous winds, hail, and lightning. The rain can cause rivers and streams to flood. Sometimes low-lying places in cities and towns flood too. Follow the steps below to make sure you stay safe when a thunderstorm is near.
Check the forecast and watch the weather: Be aware of the weather. Before you head outdoors, check the weather forecast to find out if a thunderstorm is likely. When you're outside, watch the sky during the day to see if clouds are building.
Measure the time between thunder and lightning: Because light travels faster than sound, you'll see a flash of lightning before hearing the thunder when a storm is a distance away. You can find out how far you are from a storm by counting the seconds between a lightning flash and the thunder. Divide the number of seconds by five to find the distance (in miles) to the lightning strike. Head indoors if the time between a lightning flash and thunder is 30 seconds or less. It's safest indoors during a thunderstorm. Thirty minutes after you hear the last thunder, it's safe to head outdoors again.
Keep yourself safe indoors: When lightning strikes, its electricity can travel through your house. To stay safe, keep away from windows, electrical equipment, and metal objects. Don't take a bath or shower. Turn off TVs, computers, air conditioners, and other items that plug into an outlet.
Outdoor lightning safety: If you can't go indoors or into a car, stay away from tall objects (like a single tree in a field) and metal (like fences and flagpoles). Don't hold golf clubs, fishing poles, or umbrellas. It is not safe to be riding bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, or golf carts. If you cannot get to shelter, stand in a low spot under a group of trees (not under a lone tree) or crouch down on the balls of your feet—do not lie flat on the ground. If you are swimming or boating, get out of the water.