Lightning
Before Event During Event After Event Resources

During the Event

If You Are Outdoors

During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud to ground lightning is a potential killer. However, lightning deaths can be prevented only if people are aware of the dangers and seek shelter in a building or a hard topped vehicle.

Lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm. That is about the distance that you are able to hear the thunder from the storm. If you can hear the thunder from a storm, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.

  • Don't be the highest object in the area.
  • Avoid the highest object in the area (trees, hilltops, open spaces, exposed sheds). If isolated trees are nearby, crouch down in the open, keeping twice as far away from the tree as it is high.
  • Stay away from wire fences, metal clotheslines, railings, telephone or power lines, pipelines or structural steel fabrication.
  • Don't take laundry off clotheslines.
  • Stay clear of water, oceans, canals, lakes or swimming pools. Leave beaches and small boats.
  • If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots. Thunderstorm winds create large waves and turbulent water, so wear a life jacket!
  • Seek shelter or stay low. If possible, go inside a building or a ditch. In open glades, hide under head-high clumps of trees.
  • Stay inside your car.
  • Drop down if your hair stands on end or if your skin begins to tingle from an electric charge. Lightning may be about to strike you.

If You are Indoors

Your first choice of shelter during a lightning storm is a large, enclosed building, such as a house or public building. Once inside, stay away from anything that may come into contact with lightning. Move into inner rooms of the building, keeping a safe distance from the windows.

  • Stay away from open doors, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal piles and plug-in electrical appliances.
  • Avoid the use of electrical equipment such as computers, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, electric razors and plumbing fixtures.
  • Do not use a land line telephone. Lightning may strike telephone lines outside your house, especially in rural areas, and carry the charge through the wires.

Updated January 2013