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When thunder roars, go indoors!

If you hear thunder, lightning is a threat. It’s time to find shelter. Lightning strikes kill more Americans than hurricanes in an average year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

1 Stay out of the shower

Water pipes conduct electricity, so you are better off sweaty in a storm. The NOAA isn’t keen on taking a bath, shower, washing dishes, or even standing near plumbing when you hear thunder.

2 Avoid the cords

Assuming you can even find one, don’t use a phone with a cord in a thunderstorm. For that matter, NOAA says not to use any electrical appliance. Cell phones, laptops, and items not plugged into a wall are OK.

3 Take cover

  • Find a sturdy building or a hard-top car or truck. Close the windows!
  • If you are swimming or boating, move to a shelter on land.
  • In a wooded area, look for a thick patch of small trees. Avoid tall, isolated trees.
  • Don’t lie flat. If your hair stands on end, squat with your head between your knees.
  • Avoid utility poles, barbed wire fences, convertibles, tractors, and motorcycles.

4 Wait it out

Stay indoors. Wait at least 30 minutes before you go back out. And don’t be fooled by sunny skies—lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from rain, according to NOAA.

5 If someone’s hit

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • It’s safe to touch victims; they won’t carry the lightning’s charge.
  • Give first aid, including CPR, if the victim is not breathing.
  • Use an automatic defibrillator if there’s one nearby.
  • Move the victim somewhere safe; lightning can strike the same place twice.


National Weather Service: Lightning links, forecasts, and safety tips


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Last updated: 6/14/2018