Thunderstorms are not uncommon this time of year, but that’s no reason to be complacent. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which means every thunderstorm is dangerous. For that reason, the National Lightning Safety Council designates June 19-25 as Lightning Safety Awareness Week – the perfect time to review some important safety tips.
According to the National Weather Service, there is no safe place outside when a thunderstorm is in the area. If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be in danger from lightning. Move inside at the first clap of thunder and stay inside at least 30 minutes after the last thunderclap. Don’t wait to seek shelter until the storm is overhead or it starts to rain!
Here’s more tips to keep your family safe:
Be Red Cross Ready Before a Storm
- Learn about your local community’s emergency warning system for severe thunderstorms.
- Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household.
- Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail.
- Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm.
- Make trees and shrubbery more wind resistant by keeping them trimmed and removing damaged branches.
- Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home.
- Get trained in first aid and learn how to respond to emergencies.
- Put together an emergency preparedness kit.
- Review our Red Cross Thunderstorm Safety Checklist.
Be Vigilant When a Storm is in the Forecast
- Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
- If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
Be Safe During a Storm
- Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle. NEVER drive through a flooded roadway.
- If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
Learn more about thunderstorm safety at redcross.org.