Lightning Safety: Remember When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

Posted at 4:20 p.m.

 

In the U.S., an average of 54 people are killed each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured, according to the National Weather Service. Summer is the peak season for lightning, so remember “When thunder roars, go indoors!

During lightning safety week, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to become more aware of lightning safety, so you’ll have a safe summer.

Stay Safe When a Thunderstorm Threatens

  • At the first clap of thunder, go indoors or into an enclosed vehicle. Remain inside until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.When Thunder Roars... Go Indoors. June 23-29 is Lightning Safety Week.
  • A thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area.
  • A thunderstorm warning means a thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon. If you are advised to take shelter then do so immediately.
  • If you can hear thunder, seek shelter.  Even if it is not raining, lightning can strike within 10 miles of an area that is experiencing rain.
  • Stop all outdoor activities at the first clap of thunder to give yourself time to move indoors. Leaders of outdoor events should have a plan for moving participants inside.
  • If you cannot go indoors, squat low to the ground to make yourself the smallest target possible. Go to a low-lying area and stay away from trees, poles and metal objects.
  • Avoid electrical equipment, plumbing, windows and concrete floors and walls when indoors during a thunderstorm.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone has been struck by lightning. People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
  • Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree.
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.).

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Read more tips on thunderstorm preparedness and safety from the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.

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