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Stay safe from the threat of lightning

Lightning strikes the U.S. millions of times each year, and every strike is a potential killer. To keep your family safe, it is important to know what actions to take during a thunderstorm.

Storm front clouds above trees and field There is no safe place from lightning when you are outside. To be as safe as possible, you must seek shelter indoors or in an enclosed metal topped vehicle when there is a thunderstorm in the area.

One good way to stay safe from the threat of lighting is to plan ahead. Listen to the forecast to know if there is a danger of severe weather, and make sure you can get to a safe location if a thunderstorm develops. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. It is a good idea to heed the advice of the National Weather Service, "When thunder roars, go indoors."

However, if you make it indoors, that does not mean you are completely clear from danger. Electrical current from lightning can enter your home through phone lines, electrical wires, cables, and plumbing.

During a thunderstorm, stay away from electrical outlets and any corded devices that could carry an electrical surge if lighting were to hit your home. Turn off or unplug such appliances, stay away from television sets, and do not depend on surge protectors to absorb a lightning strike. Turn off your air conditioner to protect the compressor from a power surge and avoid a costly repair job.

Lightning forking downward from clouds toward trees Avoid water and contact with piping, including sinks, baths, and faucets. Do not wash dishes, shower, or bathe during a thunderstorm. Also avoid washers and dryers since they not only connect with the plumbing and electrical systems but also contain an electrical path from the outside through the dryer vent.

After a storm, wait until 30 minutes have passed without lightning or thunder before returning outside. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area it is raining. If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and care for the victim immediately. You are not in danger of being shocked or electrocuted by the victim.

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Article and storm-front image courtesy of

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