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12 lightning safety tips

Balazs Kovacs/iStock/Thinkstock lightning strike in field
AVOID DANGEROUS PLACES: During a lightning storm, some locations and activities are safer than others. Follow these tips provided by the National Weather Service.
Follow these tips to reduce your odds of injury during a thunderstorm.

Summer is bearing down on Indiana. That means thunderstorms with sometimes heavy lightning are on the way, too. How can you stay safe during storms?

Here are 12 tips for staying safe from lightning during thunderstorms. These tips were derived from information provided by the National Weather Service. Discuss them with the entire family, and post this list where everyone can see it.

1. Avoid open fields and hilltops. Lightning takes the path of least resistance from a cloud to the ground. Higher points are easy targets.

2. Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees. It’s true that lightning is most attracted to tall objects.

3. If you are in a group, spread out. Here’s one you may not have considered before. You should separate instead of huddling together in one spot to avoid the current traveling between people.

4. Set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers absolutely no protection from lightning.

5. Stay away from water, wet items and metal objects. Water and metal do not attract lightning, but they’re excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning strike will easily travel for long distances through materials such as wet rope, fences and poles.

6. Stay off corded phones. If you grew up in the era of corded phones, you may have thought Mom or Dad was just trying to get you off the phone when they told you to hang up during a storm. But the danger is a fact. Talking on cordless phones or cellphones is safe.

7. Don’t touch electrical equipment such as computers, TVs or cords. It’s safe to operate remote controls, however.

8. Avoid plumbing. Don’t wash your hands. Don’t take a shower or wash dishes during a thunderstorm, either.

9. Stay away from windows and doors that might have leaks. This may seem odd, but leaks around windows and doors can let lightning in. It’s also important to stay off porches during storms.

10. Don’t lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. This is another way to reduce risk of injury in case lightning strikes.

11. Protect your pets. Doghouses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or in doghouses on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes. Plan ahead for your pet’s safety.

12. Protect your property. Lightning generates electrical surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will not protect equipment from a lightning strike. However, don’t unplug equipment during a thunderstorm, as there is a risk you could be struck. If you’re going to unplug anything to protect it, do it before the thunderstorm reaches your location.

Eggert is a Purdue University student and works for the Indiana State Climate office.

TAGS: Safety
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