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Avoiding Lightning Strikes

Tips for staying safe indoors and outdoors

Summer storms can materialize in a moment, so be prepared in case you get caught in the open when lightning strikes. But being inside has its own set of precautions and warnings. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of lightning-related injuries occur to people inside their home or shelter when an electrical storm hits.

The old adage “when thunder roars, go indoors” should be heeded. Assume that any storm with thunder also has lightning. Here’s what the CDC says you should do when rolls of thunder and flashes of lightning are nearby:

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•    If you’re in an open area, get down low, with your knees and feet touching. Tuck your head and place your hands over your ears.

•    Do not lie down. Electrical currents from lightning can travel along the ground, up to 100 feet from the strike.

•    Get out of open vehicles, including convertibles, golf carts and motorcycles.

•    You should be safe in your car or truck if the windows are closed.

•    Do not take shelter on an open porch or deck, a baseball dugout or sports arena.


•    Avoid electrical equipment, including computers and laptops. Any appliance connected to an electrical outlet, such as your washer and dryer, stove or refrigerator, could conduct an electrical current from lightning.

•    Don’t take a shower or bath during a storm, or do the dishes. Lightning can travel through plumbing.

•    If you have a land line, hang up the phone. Cell phones
are safe, though.

•    Stay away from windows and doors. Also, concrete walls and floors are unsafe, as lightning can travel through the metal wires or bars in them.