Surviving Lightning Storms: The Do's and Don'ts

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Lightning is a major contributor to weather-related deaths in the US. More than 400 people are struck by lightning across the country each year. Of those 400, nearly 60 die and hundreds of others suffer from neurological disabilities for the rest of their lives.

It's something to take seriously, and something to be prepared for as our spring storm season heats up.

So, what should you do?

  • First, go inside! No place outside is ever safe during a thunderstorm. If you can't get inside, do NOT go to a porch or shelter. They will not provide protection from lightning. Instead, get into the closest metal vehicle you can, and make sure the windows are up.

  • If you are able to get inside, stay off corded phones and computers or any electrical item that puts you in direct contact with electricity. Also, stay away from plumbing like sinks, baths, and faucets. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean up against concrete walls.

  • If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby, immediately get off elevated surfaces, like hills, mountains or peaks. Never lie flat on the ground, or shelter under an isolated tree.

  • Remember, water is never safe. Immediately get away from pools, ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.

  • Stay away from things that conduct electricity like fences, power lines, windmills, etc...

If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. In fact, lightning often strikes outside of an area of heavy rain.
Another myth about lightning? There is no such thing as "heat lightning." All lightning comes as a result of a thunderstorm.

One of the best ways you can protect yourself is by staying informed. Track the weather, and postpone any outdoor plans if you know thunderstorms are in the forecast. And remember, you can always track storms as they come and go by downloading the ABC-11 First Alert Weather app. You will also get warnings as they are issued right on your phone.

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