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Thunderstorms: How to protect yourself from lightning

If you hear thunder, find shelter fast. Lightning strikes kill more Americans than hurricanes most years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here are some tips for staying safe in a thunderstorm.
  1. Outdoors? Take cover

    • Find a sturdy building or get inside a car or truck. Close the windows!
    • Avoid utility poles, barbed wire fences, convertibles, tractors, and motorcycles.
    • Look for a thick patch of small trees. Avoid tall, lone trees.
    • Don’t lie flat. If your hair stands on end, squat down with your head between your knees.
    • If you’re swimming or boating, get to dry land and find a shelter fast.
  2. Stay indoors

    Wait at least 30 minutes after the thunder ends before you go back out. Don’t be fooled by sunny skies—lightning can strike 10 miles away from rain.

  3. Don’t take a shower

    Water pipes conduct electricity—avoid them in a storm. The NOAA says don’t take a bath or shower, wash dishes, or even stand near plumbing when you hear thunder.

  4. Avoid appliances

    Don’t use electrical appliances during a thunderstorm. Cell phones, laptops, and devices that aren’t plugged in are OK. Don’t use a phone with a cord.

  5. If lightning strikes someone

    • Call 9-1-1 immediately.
    • Give first aid, including CPR, if the victim is not breathing.
    • You can touch the victim; the lightning’s charge will be gone.
    • Move the victim someplace safe; lightning can strike the same place twice.
    • Use an automatic defibrillator if there’s one nearby.

Resources

 

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Last updated: 3/31/2022