Lightning is a dangerous weather event which poses a high risk to your life. Though most frequent in spring and rare in winter, thunderstorms can possibly strike at any time of the year. Lightning mostly occurs with every thunderstorm. It basically results because of the build-up and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas in the atmosphere and clouds. Though it mostly occurs between clouds, it is the ground strikes which are very dangerous.
Apart from the risks due to different lightning strikes, high winds, hail, and heavy rain also pose a risk to your property and life. If you are worried about getting caught in one, then here are some lightning safety precautions to help you stay safe and sound.
Basic Precautionary Methods
One of the first precautions is keeping a weather radio with you during storm season. This is very essential while you participate in outdoor activities. Also, you should not plan outdoor activities when storms are predicted.
When camping, set up camp by a low grove of trees, preferably close to the floor of a valley. Precautions during camping, include staying off hilltops and avoiding long open fields. Also, be aware of the general weather patterns of the area you are in and plan your outings accordingly. You must stay off water and should not swim during a thunderstorm.
If you are outdoors when a storm approaches, then getting indoors should be your topmost priority. Remember, indoor means any shelter which is fully enclosed like a home or school and not any indoor place such as a carport or a tent. So, do not take shelter under trees and stay away from steel structures such as pylons and windmills.
While you are traveling, find a shelter, as mentioned above, or stay in the vehicle. A hard top car is safe and not a convertible. You must close all the doors, roll up the windows and should not touch anything that is made of metal. Also switch off all your electronic devices and keep them away from you till the thunderstorm is over.
While you are indoors you must stay away from the windows. Also do not hold any metal object or any electrical home appliances, keep them switched off. Do not use a telephone, or take a bath or shower during the storm and stay away from fences and telephone or power lines. If you are staying in a thatched building, you can erect a lightning conductor near the building, but not touching the building.
A Few Safety Facts
There is a "30-30 Rule", which gives you an easy to follow lightning safety guidance. When you see lightning, start counting the seconds, until you hear thunder. Now, if this time is 30 seconds or less than that, understand that the thunderstorm is close enough to you to be dangerous. In this case, you must seek shelter as soon as you can. Now, even if you are unable to see the lightning, you will definitely be able to hear the thunder, so wait for half an hour after the last flash, before you leave the shelter.
Remember, only a house or similarly closed shelter with wiring and plumbing will offer you the best protection against lightning. Once you are indoors, stay off telephones, computers, and all other electrical appliances and plumbing.
If you are by chance caught in the open during lightning strikes, then follow these rules and tips, and minimize the risk.
- If you are in a group, each person must stand at least 50 feet apart, in order to minimize group injuries.
- Sit on the heels of your feet with the balls and toes of your feet touching the ground so as to lower your height.
- Tuck your head between your knees, doing this will minimize any chance of a strike on your head, so that your chances of survival are better.
- Keep your ears covered to protect yourself against hearing damage and close your eyes to minimize blindness due to close strikes.
- Remove your jewelry, watches, and other metal items as these might cause severe burns if you are struck by lightning.
- You should stand on a plastic sheet, sleeping pad, or any such thing which will help you to isolate yourself from the wet ground. This should be done to minimize the conductivity.
- Try to hold your position till the storm passes.
The aforementioned precautions and tips will definitely help minimize any risks to your life due to lightning strikes. Just follow them and be safe. Good luck!