Thunderstorm & Lightning Hazards

Approximately 50 people, on average, are killed by lightning strikes each year and others suffering permanent disabilities, such as severe burns. Thunderstorms and lightning are most likely to develop on hot, humid days. Historically, lightning fatalities have occurred between April and September, with most of the strike events happening in June, July and August.

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, get to a safe place immediately. Thunderstorms always include lightning. Lightning may occur up to 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Ways to Be Struck by Lightning

  • Direct Strike – A person struck directly by lightning becomes a part of the main lightning discharge channel. Most often, direct strikes occur to people who are in open areas.
  • Side Flash – A side flash (also called a side splash) occurs when lightning strikes a taller object near a person and a portion of the current jumps from taller object to the person.
  • Ground Current – When lightning strikes a tree or other object, much of the energy travels outward from the strike in and along the ground surface.
  • Conduction – Lightning can travel long distances in wires or other metal surfaces. Whether inside or outside, anyone in contact with anything connected to metal wires, plumbing or metal surfaces that extend outside is at risk. This includes anything that plugs into an electrical outlet, water faucets and showers, corded phones, and windows and doors.

Monitor the Weather

When working outside:

  • Continuously monitor weather conditions.
  • Watch for darkening clouds and increasing wind speeds.
  • Monitor the internet or weather apps for emergency notifications.

Seek Shelter

When a lightning storm threatens, take these precautions:

  • Seek shelter inside a building whenever possible. Avoid open shelters like pavilions or porches.
  • Once inside, stay away from open windows, sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, appliances, electric boxes and outlets.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, stay there and roll up the windows.

Stuck Outside?

If you’re caught outside, and there is no shelter or no time to seek adequate shelter:

  • Crouch down with your feet close together.
  • Keep your hands on your knees and lower your head.
  • Get as low as possible without touching your hands or knees to the ground, and DO NOT LIE DOWN.

Download the printable PDF and Recording Form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.