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Thunder and Lightning

Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which means every thunderstorm is dangerous.

Because lightning is so unpredictable and can occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall, being prepared and knowing what to do in a thunderstorm will decrease your risk of being injured. Other dangers associated with thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard.

Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening, so be particularly cautious of lightning this time of year.

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.

Preparing for Thunderstorms

  • Get an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions for you and your family to live on for a minimum of three days in case there is a long-term power outage.
  • Know the difference between a Thunderstorm Watch and a Thunderstorm Warning:
      • Watch:  There's a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area.
      • Warning:  A thunderstorm is occuring or will occur soon. If you are advise to take shelter, do so immediately.
  • If a thunderstorm is likely in your area, postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • 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.

During a Thunderstorm

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.

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, such as tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.

Additional tips:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Listen for weather updates from local officials.