How To Stay Safe in a Thunderstorm Indoors and Out
Dark clouds envelop the sky, the distant rumbling, the flashes of light rolling over the horizon - thunderstorms are marvels of nature but best observed indoors. According to the National Weather Service, we have a 1-in-15,300 chance of getting struck by lightning in our lifetime. While the chances are low, our odds of getting struck by lightning are nearly 20,000 times higher than hitting the winning lottery numbers!
When we are outdoors and hear thunder, we need to find shelter in a building, preferably away from the windows. If you find yourself in the middle of a concert, golf course, or field with no buildings around, the next best thing would be a car. We have all heard that the rubber tires on a car protect us from lightning, but it is actually the metal on the car that protects us.
If there are no buildings, no roofs, or cars be sure to stay away from tall and metal objects like polls, umbrellas, tents, or trees. While it may not be safe to be in an open field, it is even more dangerous to stand under a tree in a storm. Lightning is attracted to taller objects and if a tree is hit, the electricity can travel to us. In fact, being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties.
A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity such as corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, metal doors, and windows. And we have all heard that we should avoid showering or using water during a storm. This is not an old wive's tale. Electricity from lightning can move through water pipes so avoid the faucets.
There are so many myths surrounding lighting. If you are ever caught in a thunderstorm, knowing the facts can save your life. The National Weather Service separates fact from fiction.