10 Tips for Staying Safe in a Thunderstorm

Thunder is the nation's most underrated weather hazard. These lightning safety tips will keep you protected until a storm passes.

Compiled by Amy Zerello from The National Weather Service
Lightning Boltcomstock / jupiterimages.comBefore going outdoors, check the forecast for thunderstorms.

Of all weather phenomena, lightning is perhaps the most unacknowledged threat. Summer is peak season for lightning fatalities, which is why June 21 marks the commencement of Lightning Safety Week. Here, tips from the National Weather Service’s guide to lightning safety that will help you weather a storm:

1. Avoid open areas. Don’t be the tallest object in the area.

2. Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an area.

3. Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or fences. Metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can travel long distances through it.

4. Have a lightning safety plan. Know where you’ll go for safety and how much time it will take to get there. Make sure your plan allows enough time to reach safety.

5. Postpone activities. Before going outdoors, check the forecast for thunderstorms. Consider postponing activities to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.

6. Monitor the weather. Look for signs of a developing thunderstorm such as darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing wind.

7. Get to a safe place. If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, immediately move to a safe place. Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing provide the best protection. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do NOT protect you from lightning. If a sturdy building is not nearby, get into a hard-topped metal vehicle and close all the windows. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.

8. If you hear thunder, don’t use a corded phone except in an emergency. Cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use.

9. Keep away from electrical equipment and wiring.

10. Water pipes conduct electricity. Don’t take a bath or shower or use other plumbing during a storm.

For More Information
View The Weather Channel’s US Lightning Strikes Weather in Motion® map
Read the National Weather Service’s lightning links, forecasts, and assessments
Tune into the NOAA’s Weather Radio for storm warnings

Read our Quick Study on twisters! Learn about the anatomy of a tornado.