How to stay safe from storms

Deaths and injuries due to electrical hazards continue to occur each year. Yet most deaths and injuries caused by electrical hazards are preventable.

As storm season approaches, electric cooperatives urge increased awareness of lightning hazards. Data from the National Weather Service shows that lightning strikes are fatal in approximately 10 percent of strike victims. Another 70 percent of survivors suffer serious long-term effects.

Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. Because lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles, blue skies are not a sign of safety. If you hear thunder, take cover. For protection in homes and buildings, consider installing a lightning protection system to intercept lightning strikes and guide the current harmlessly to the ground.

Cooperatives recommend following these guidelines to stay safe during electrical storms:

  • If possible, go indoors. Once indoors, stay away from windows and doors.
  • Do not use corded telephones except for emergencies.
  • Unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives and avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords during storms.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • If outdoors, go to a low point. Lightning hits the tallest object. Get down if you are in an exposed area.
  • Stay away from trees.
  • Avoid metal. Don’t hold metal items, including bats, golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools. Avoid metal sheds, clotheslines, poles and fences.
  • If you feel a tingling sensation or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Crouch down and cover your ears.
  • Stay away from water. This includes pools, lakes, puddles and anything damp, such as wet poles or grass.
  • Don’t stand close to other people. Spread out.
  • Don’t forget pets during thunderstorms. Doghouses are not lightning safe. Dogs that are chained can easily fall victim to a lightning strike.
  • Victims of lightning strikes should be given CPR if necessary, and seek medical attention. For more on lightning safety, visit the Lightning Protection Institute.


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