Lightning Safety 101 – Knowing Before is Half the Battle

Flash! Boom! Another lightning bolt, followed by the rolling clap of thunder, streaks through the air as a thunderstorm fast approaches. Common throughout spring and summer, thunderstorms should send everyone scurrying for cover.

Credit: WeatherBug user Glenn Holland of Southlake, Texas, took this picture of a dangerous lightning storm.

Credit: WeatherBug user Glenn Holland of Southlake, Texas, took this picture of a dangerous lightning storm.

The following tips will help you stay safe before, during and after a thunderstorm.

Before the Storm - It is important to know how to recognize when you are at risk for a lightning storm. Knowing that a storm is coming will allow you to make plans to be indoors before the storm strikes!

  • Check WeatherBug for the forecast before heading out. We have FREE apps for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and Windows Phone — GET IT!
  • Storms can form overhead, so always check the sky for large cumulus clouds as these are the first sign of thunderstorms.
  • If you feel like a storm is on its way it is imperative to stop your outdoor activities and move to a safe indoor area.
  • Lightning can strike before the rain, so be someplace safe before the threat is upon you. To check the distances of the storm to you, use the Spark™ feature in the WeatherBug mobile app. It turns your phone into a personal lightning detector and will tell you exactly how far away lightning is to your GPS location. If you’re not familiar on what you can do to stay safer from lightning, Spark™ also gives safety tips!
Credit: WeatherBug user Michael Minery took this picture in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Credit: WeatherBug user Michael Minery took this picture in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Outside in a StormNo place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area.  To avoid being put into a bad situation when lightning is within an unsafe range, it is best to keep up with weather reports and forecasts as well as keeping an eye on the weather when you’re planning to go outdoors. You want to avoid being caught far from safe structure when thunderstorms move in. Be sure to check WeatherBug while planning outings and again before heading out!

Credit: WeatherBug user Michael Mattingly from Paris, TN

Credit: WeatherBug user Michael Mattingly from Paris, TN

Inside During a Storm - Indoors is the safest place during a storm. There are still hazards to watch out for.

  • Do not use corded phones. Lightning can travel through the phone lines and electrocute you.
  • Lightning can also travel through pipes. Do not take showers, bathes or do dishes while a thunderstorm is occurring.
  • Have flashlight and/or candles ready. Power failures often occur during thunderstorms.
  • Unplug or turn off electronics. Lightning can cause damaging power surges.
Credit: l∞senut via Flickr

Credit: l∞senut via Flickr

Struck by Lightning - If you see someone get struck by lightning it is important that you help them as soon as possible.

  • Don’t worry, people struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
  • The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned where they were struck and where the electricity left their body.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR.

It is important to help victims as soon as possible because left untreated, people struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and an inability to sit for long periods of time.

Credit: WeatherBug user Nancy Diem from Imlay City, MI

Credit: WeatherBug user Nancy Diem from Imlay City, MI

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This entry was posted in Lightning, Safety.