Many people seem to be of the belief that lightning will only occur during the summer months but this just isn’t the case. Lightning can actually happen at any time of the year and causes many deaths worldwide and substantial amounts of damage every year.
The aim of the following guide is to give you some practical tips that can help you to stay safe and secure should you be caught in a lightning storm.
What is the 30/30 lightning safety rule?
The 30/30 rule can be used to determine the threat of lightning in your specific area.
- 30 seconds: Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If this time is less than 30 seconds, lightning is still a potential threat. Seek shelter immediately.
- 30 minutes: After the last lightning flash, wait 30 minutes before leaving shelter. Half of all lightning deaths occur after a storm passes. Stay in a safe area until you are sure the threat has passed.
Each second between the lightning and the clap of thunder represents about 300 meters. If you can count less than 30 seconds between the lightning strike and the thunder, the storm is less than 10 km away and there is an 80 percent chance the next strike will happen within that 10 km.
Are you safe from lightning in a house?
The absolute safest place for you to seek shelter during a thunderstorm is indoors. You do still have to be very careful even indoors as the electricity produced by a lightning strike can travel through any conductive surfaces such as wires and pipes within your house. If you are touching one of these surfaces you can certainly be electrocuted.
If you know that thunderstorms are expected, stop any outdoor activities immediately and seek shelter. Don’t try to wait five or ten minutes to finish the job, just get indoors! Your home’s best protection against a lightning strike is a lightning protection system.
If You Are Outside During a Storm
As already mentioned, you must immediately seek shelter for your own safety. Do this as soon as you hear any claps of thunder. If you can not get into a building, seek shelter in a hard-topped vehicle and stay there. If this also is not an option, try to stay away from open fields, hilltops, tall trees or other tall objects. Go to the lowest place possible, such as a ravine or valley, and squat in a baseball catcher’s position — with your heels touching, ears covered, and head between your knees. Minimize contact with the ground and do NOT lie flat. You should avoid water and anything metal.
If You Are Driving During a Storm
Exit the road or highway you are on and park in a safe location. Stay in the vehicle and turn on emergency flashers until the storm subsides. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that can conduct electricity.
If You Are Indoors During a Storm
During a storm people look for ways to pass the time until they can get back to doing what they were doing. They may often choose to watch TV or use their phones or computers to go on-line but this should really be avoided. Instead, unplug any televisions, computers and any other high-value electronics well before the storm hits.
Once the storm has begun, do not touch any electrical equipment or cords. You can use cordless or cellular phones during the storm but not anything plugged into an outlet including corded phones. Be sure to stay away from windows and doors and do not go on porches. Also avoid taking baths or showers during storms.
If Your House Gets Struck by Lightning
If your home happens to get struck by lightning, immediately call 999 or 911 and evacuate the building if you see any signs of fire or smoke. If you use gas for heating and cooking, contact your gas company or a licensed contractor to conduct a leak test before re-entering your home.
Here is a video of just how serious a lightning strike can be as it obliterates a power pole:
And here’s a compilation of more: