Thunderstorms can do more than ruin a picnic. Lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes! Here’s everything you need to know about staying safe during a thunderstorm, courtesy of The National Weather Service:
- Let’s start with: Shelter. We’ve all heard that buildings offer the best protection from lightning. For the most part, that’s true, but there are exceptions. Many small, open shelters you find in places like athletic fields, golf courses, parks, and roadside picnic areas are designed to protect people from rain and sun - but not lightning. If a building has plumbing and wiring, it’s safe, because electricity travels through the fixtures and into the ground. However, if you don’t see pipes and wires, the lightning is more likely to travel through you. So, you’re better off in a hard-topped vehicle, or lying down at the lowest point you can find - away from trees and standing water.
- Storm safety tip #2: Stay away from windows and doors. In general, basements are a safe bet, but you want to avoid contact with concrete walls because they may be reinforced with metal bars that could attract lightning. Don’t forget that your furnace, washer, dryer and hot water heater could all become electrified if lightning strikes – so keep your distance during a storm.
- If you’re at home and a storm is approaching, unplug all your electrical devices - even if they’re plugged into a surge protector. A lightning strike carries anywhere from 100 million to 100 BILLION volts - and that much juice can jump through your protector and blow out your appliances. Don’t forget to unplug yourself from the telephone. According to the National Geographic, talking on the phone is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in North America.