How To Stay Safe During A Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms can be dangerous and deadly, but knowing how to prepare for a thunderstorm and what to do during a thunderstorm can help you stay safe and protect your family, too. This guide will look at what to do in a thunderstorm and provide some essential safety tips for thunderstorms.

How to Stay Safe During a Thunderstorm

  • First, remember the golden rule – When thunder roars, go indoors! The safest place to be in a thunderstorm is inside an enclosed space during a storm, rather than outdoors.
  • Listen out for warnings and alerts before the storm comes.
  • If you hear thunder, look for shelter ASAP. Head indoors and try to find a safe basement or interior room without any windows. And when it comes to what to do in a thunderstorm in a house, it’s best to stay inside until the storm has passed.
  • Don’t assume that shelters like sheds or bleachers are safe. You need to get into a sturdy and enclosed building as soon as you can.
  • Remember, even indoors, thunderstorms can be dangerous. Indoor safety precautions for thunderstorms include
    • Turn off and unplug electronic devices.
    • Avoid taking a bath or shower during the storm.
    • Stay away from windows and doors.
    • Close windows and doors to prevent rain and wind from entering.
    • Avoid contact with plumbing, such as sinks and faucets.
    • Stay in an interior room without windows or in a basement if possible.

How to Be Prepared for a Thunderstorm

  • Stay informed: Check your local weather forecast to see if thunderstorms are predicted. You can also download weather apps or sign up for alerts to stay updated.
  • Prepare your home: Close all windows and doors, and secure any loose objects outside that may be blown away or cause damage.
  • Create an emergency kit: Make sure you have a kit with essential items like a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, and water.
  • Unplug electronics: During a thunderstorm, lightning strikes can cause power surges that can damage electronics. Unplug any unnecessary electronics to prevent damage.
  • Seek shelter: If you are outside, find shelter immediately. Do not take shelter under a tree or in an open area. Instead, go to a building or car.
  • Avoid water: Stay away from water during a thunderstorm, including pools, lakes, and rivers. Lightning can strike the water and travel through it, causing electrocution.
  • Stay inside: If you are indoors, stay away from windows, and avoid using wired electronics. Lightning can travel through wires, so it is best to avoid using them during a thunderstorm.
  • Stay low: If you are inside and cannot avoid using electronics, sit on the floor or a low stool to reduce the risk of being struck by lightning.
  • Avoid plumbing: Avoid taking showers, washing dishes, or doing laundry during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing, and you could be electrocuted.
  • Stay calm: Thunderstorms can be scary, but it’s important to stay calm and not panic. Keep children and pets close to you, and reassure them that they are safe.
  • Wait it out: Once the storm has passed, wait at least 30 minutes before going outside. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the storm, so it’s important to wait until it is safe.

Video courtesy of  National Weather Service.

What to Do After a Thunderstorm

  • Stay alert: Check your local news or weather reports for updates on any damage or hazards caused by the storm.
  • Assess the damage: Check your property for any damage caused by the storm, such as fallen trees or power lines, roof damage, or flooding. Take pictures of any damage for insurance purposes.
  • Avoid hazards: Stay away from any downed power lines or trees that may have fallen. Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads.
  • Check on neighbors: If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbors, check on them to make sure they are okay and offer assistance if needed.
  • Check for water damage: Inspect your home for any signs of water damage, such as wet carpeting, damp walls, or leaks in the ceiling. Take steps to dry out and repair any damage to prevent mold growth.
  • Contact your insurance company: If your property has sustained damage, contact your insurance company to file a claim and receive assistance.
  • Restore power: If your power has gone out, check your circuit breaker or fuse box to see if any breakers have tripped or fuses have blown. If you are unable to restore power, contact your utility company for assistance.
  • Clean up debris: If there is debris on your property, clean it up carefully to avoid injury. Wear gloves and protective clothing if necessary.
  • Prevent mosquito breeding: After a thunderstorm, standing water may be present in containers, puddles, and other places. Empty these water sources to prevent mosquito breeding.
  • Practice self-care: Thunderstorms can be stressful and traumatic. Take time to rest, eat well, and practice self-care to manage stress and anxiety.

Thunderstorm Safety FAQ

What’s the difference between a thunderstorm warning and a thunderstorm watch?

A thunderstorm warning means that a storm is imminent, while a watch suggests that a storm might happen within a matter of hours. It’s important to take immediate action if a warning is issued.

What should I not do during a thunderstorm?

Do not go outside, avoid using any electronic devices, stay away from water, and avoid opening windows and doors. Lightning can strike anything outdoors, including trees, bodies of water, and metal objects. It’s best to stay indoors until the storm has passed.

Where is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm?

The safest place to be is indoors, in a fully enclosed room like a basement. Stay away from windows, doors, and anything that conducts electricity, including corded phones, plumbing fixtures, and electrical outlets.

Should I turn off lights during a thunderstorm?

Yes, it’s best to turn off everything electronic, including lights. Sudden power surges may occur, which could cause fuses to blow, appliances to suffer damages, and lights to burst.

Is it safe to go outside during a thunderstorm?

No, outdoor areas can be very dangerous during storms due to winds, flood risks, and lightning. If you’re caught outside during a thunderstorm, avoid seeking shelter under trees, seek low ground, and don’t touch anything that conducts electricity.

Can you fly in a thunderstorm?

Yes, planes can take off during thunderstorms, but pilots and air traffic professionals will make the decision after evaluating the safety risks. Airplanes are designed to withstand lightning strikes, but they will typically try to avoid flying directly into storms.

Can you charge your phone during a thunderstorm?

No, it’s best to not plug anything in or use any electronic, wired appliances or devices during a storm. This includes cell phones, laptops, and tablets. It’s safer to wait until after the storm has passed to charge your devices.

Is it dangerous to walk in a thunderstorm?

Yes, it can be. Lightning can strike anything that is taller than its surroundings, including people. It’s best to find shelter as soon as possible and avoid walking through areas with standing water, as it can hide dangerous debris.

What should I turn off in a thunderstorm?

Turn off and unplug all electronic devices, lights, and appliances. This includes TVs, computers, kitchen appliances, and any other devices that are connected to an electrical outlet.

Can a thunderstorm cause a tornado?

Yes, tornadoes form because of large and severe thunderstorms. They are typically associated with a specific type of thunderstorm called a supercell.

Is it safe to sleep during a thunderstorm?

As long as you’re indoors in a safe space and have taken the proper precautions, it should be safe to sleep. However, it’s a good idea to have a way to receive alerts in case of an emergency, such as a weather radio or a smartphone app that can send notifications.

Is it dangerous to be outside in a thunderstorm?

Yes, outdoor areas are never fully safe when storms are around. There’s always a risk of lightning strikes or strong winds causing injuries and accidents.

What to do in a severe thunderstorm watch?

Take shelter immediately, head to the safest room in the house (basement or an enclosed ground floor room), avoid electronics, and wait for the storm to pass.

Is it safe to drive during a thunderstorm?

It depends. You shouldn’t have to worry about lightning strikes as long as you stay in the car and keep the windows up, but strong winds and poor visibility can still create dangerous driving conditions.

Thunderstorm Safety Resources

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