When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
What You Might Not Know About Lightning
- All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. In the United States, in an average year, lightning kills about the same number of people as tornadoes and more people than hurricanes.
- Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. Many lightning deaths occur ahead of storms or after storms have seemingly passed.
- If you can hear thunder, you are in danger. Don’t be fooled by blue skies. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat. Lightning leaves many victims with permanent disabilities. While a small percentage of lightning strike victims die, many survivors must learn to live with very serious lifelong pain and neurological disabilities. There is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. Plan ahead to avoid this dangerous situation! If you’re outside and hear thunder, the only way to significantly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty is to get inside a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle as fast as you can. In addition, you should avoid the following situations which could increase your risk of becoming a lightning casualty. Remember – there is no substitute for getting to a safe place.
- Avoid open areas. Don’t be the tallest object in the area. Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an area.
- Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or fences. Metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can travel long distances through it. If you are with a group of people, spread out. While this actually increases the chance that someone might get struck, it tends to prevent multiple casualties, and increases the chances that someone could help if a person is struck.
Act Fast If Someone Is Struck by Lightning!
- Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately.
- Call for help. Call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service.
- Give first aid. Do not delay CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available.
- If possible, move the victim to a safer place. Lightning can strike twice. Don’t become a victim.