Thunderstorm Safety Tips to Protect Your Family & Home
Thunderstorms can be deadly—here are some best practices for staying safe.
When thunderstorms roll in, there’s more to worry about than raindrops falling on your head. The storms can turn creeks into raging rivers and winds into 120-mph forces of nature. Powerful hail can threaten you and your property, and lightning poses a danger—it caused 16 reported deaths in the U.S. in 2017, according to the National Weather Service.
Thunderstorms develop when warm, moist air meets cold air. Conditions are most common in the late afternoon during summer. There is a silver lining to thunderstorms, though: They help disperse excess heat and clean the air of pollutants.
Here’s what to do (and what not to do) if you find yourself in a thunderstorm:
Indoors: Head to a small interior room (away from windows and skylights) on the lowest level. Lightning-induced electrical current can travel through wiring and plumbing, so it’s safest to avoid using telephones, electric appliances, sinks, and showers. If power fails, turn off electrical appliances and switches before the power comes back on to avoid power-surge damage.
In a car: Pull off the road and stay inside with the windows up.
Outdoors: Seek shelter away from exposed locations (golf courses, open water, and beaches, for example). Avoid isolated tall objects (such as trees, towers, metal fences, and flagpoles) and elevated areas (bleachers and hilltops). If no shelter is available, get as low as you can on the ground. Large (softball-size) hailstones often are a sign of a tornado nearby, so head to a tornado shelter.
After the storm has passed, stay in a safe shelter for at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.