Lightning can cause significant damage and/or fatalities. It is essential to take precautionary measures by everyone who happens to be close to a thunderstorm. Protection from lightning is easy if we follow some basic rules. This first step is to correctly assess the danger. As a general rule of thumb, when we hear thunder then the storm is close and should be considered a potential threat. So, as soon as we hear the thunder…
If we are outside:
Try to move to a shelter, like a building that has plumbing or electrical installation. An enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up is also an adequate solution.
Stay inside the shelter even after the last thunder for a period of 30 minutes.
If you are unable to move to any kind of shelter then there is nothing you can do to protect yourself. However, there are some things that you should do to avoid increasing the danger of been struck by lightning:
• Get off any elevated areas (hills, mountain ridges, peaks).
• Do not lie flat on the ground.
• Move away from isolated trees.
• Do not take shelter under a cliff or rocky overhang.
• Move away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
• Move away from any conductive objects (barbed wire fences, power lines, towers, etc.).
If we are inside:
Are we completely safe? Unfortunately, although the chance of been traumatized by lightning inside a shelter is very much smaller than if we are outside, it still exists! Ok, there is no reason to panic, but some simple measures can help us reduce the danger even more:
• Avoid being close to any kind of cord and electric or electronic equipment that are plugged in the buildings’ installation.
• Avoid being close to plumbing, even sinks, baths and faucets.
• Avoid being close to the windows, doors and porches.
• Avoid lying down on concrete floors and leaning against concrete walls.
(Source: US NOAA National Weather Service, http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/)