Summer thunderstorm season is upon us and with those thunderstorms comes lightning. That’s why you need to know where to be – and where not to be – when you see those dark clouds or hear the rumble of thunder on the way.
Here are some of the worst places to be during a thunderstorm:
1. Near a Tree
When you’re caught outside during a thunderstorm, it’s tempting to hide under the first big thing you see. We feel safer when we’re not exposed (and being pelted with rain). But taking shelter near a tall, isolated tree is a terrible idea. The lightning can strike the tree and jump to you (a side flash). Plus, you run the serious risk of getting hit by a falling limb once a bolt has made contact.
What to Do in a Thunderstorm in the Woods?
If shelter isn’t close, seek protection in a valley or depression in the terrain. Take caution and avoid isolated trees in the woods or other tall objects. Check your surroundings for metal objects i.e. hiking poles or camping equipment and ensure they are left at least 100 feet away from you.
2. On a Golf Course
The beauty of a golf course is in its wide, open spaces. Unfortunately for golfers, lightning is just as enthusiastic about a golf course’s charms. An empty field except for a few people with raised metal clubs? If you are on the links when you hear the first rumbles of thunder, head indoors ASAP. The shelter on the golf courses are meant for protection from rain and sun, not lightning, and they aren’t a safe place to wait out a storm.
What to Do If You See Lightning Strike at the Golf Course
It’s important to seek shelter immediately and stay away from bodies of water. Do not stand under trees or remain seated in a golf cart. You must separate yourself from your golf cart along with your golf clubs.
3. On a Small Boat
When you see dark towering clouds topped with an anvil shape, get off the water – and fast! Not all boats are created equal, Sailboats are possibly the worst kind of vessel to be aboard in a thunderstorm – there’s a tall mast and no cabin. Metal ships can dissipate the electric charge of a lightning bolt fairly quickly. Wood and fiberglass boats need a lightning protection system (LPS). An LPS doesn’t keep a strike from happening, but it can protect the people in the vessel, as well as the boat’s instruments.
What to Do In a Thunderstorm On a Small Boat
If your vessel has a cabin, stay inside and avoid touching metal or electrical devices. If your boat doesn’t have a cabin, stay as low as you can in the boat and wait for the storm to pass.
4. In Your Yard
Being at home is not the same as being in your home, as far as lightning safety goes. People are stuck by lightning and killed each year in their own yards.
5. In an Open Field
Baling hay. Feeding livestock. Herding cattle. These are just some of the activities people were engaged in when struck by lightning and killed last year. All of these fatalities occurred in open fields. Some people were doing farm work; others were engaging in leisure activities. Lightning deaths on soccer fields are, unfortunately, not uncommon in this category.
What to Do If You’re Caught in an Open Field During a Lightning Storm
Seek a low spot and remain crouched low with your feet together and head down. Position yourself away from metal and other objects that conduct electricity like windmills or power lines.
Where is the Best Place to Be in a Thunderstorm?
Really there is only one safety rule – when thunder roars, go indoors. Homes and buildings that have plumbing and wiring are very safe, because the lightning current will tend to travel through those conduits.
What to Do in a Thunderstorm in a House?
Homes and buildings that have plumbing and wiring are very safe because the lightning current will tend to travel through those conduits.
Thunderstorm Safety FAQs
Is It Safe to Sit On Your Porch During a Thunderstorm?
No; sitting on an open porch to watch a thunderstorm is dangerous. It is best to be in an interior room during a thunderstorm. The same is true for open garages, carports, or any shelter that isn’t fully enclosed with a roof, walls, and a floor.
Can You Take a Shower or Bath During a Thunderstorm?
Lightning can travel through plumbing. The safest thing to do is avoid using all water during a lightning storm including using the shower, bath, washing dishes, or washing your hands.
Is It Safe to Use Electronics During a Thunderstorm?
While cordless and cell phones are safe to use during a storm, it’s important to know that lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems so avoid electronic equipment of all types.
Are You Safe From Lightning in a Car?
Yes; vehicles are safe because of the metal cage surrounding the people inside the vehicle which is contrary to popular belief that it is the rubber the reason for this isn’t because cars have rubber tires that insulate you from the ground.