A helpful guide to staying safe during lightning storms

September 22, 2015

You are at risk of a lightning strike whenever you hear thunder, even if a storm is not directly overhead and rain has not yet arrived. Here is a handy guide to protecting yourself from lightning strikes.

A helpful guide to staying safe during lightning storms

Seek shelter from incoming storms

The most important thing when caught in a storm is to seek shelter immediately. Here are some simple tips for staying safe in an electrical storm.

  • When the storm is approaching, seek safety inside a building or a metal vehicle.
  • Once you're inside, stay away from doors and windows.
  • Do not use the telephone.
  • If you are wearing a headset, take it off.
  • Turn off, unplug and stay away from computers, TV sets, power tools and small and large appliances.
  • Should lightening strike exterior electric or phone lines, a shock can travel and destroy connected equipment. Likewise, avoid stoves, metal pipes, sinks, bathtubs and other conductive materials.
  • Don't handle flammable materials in open containers.

Protecting yourself from storms when outside

Sometimes, finding shelter during a lightning storm is unrealistic. In that case, here are a few simple steps to staying safe while stuck in a storm in the outdoors.

  • If you're outdoors and no structure is available, go to an open space and squat low, but do not lie on the ground.
  • If you're in the woods, find an area protected by a low clump of trees. Never stand under a single large tree in the open.
  • Avoid towers, fences, phone lines and power lines.
  • Stay away from lightning attractants, such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, camping gear, metal canopies and tool sheds.
  • Also stay away from rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Avoid proximity to other people, if possible — separate yourself by at least 4.5 metres (15 feet).

If lightning strikes someone

If someone has been struck by lightning, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.

  • While you wait for help to arrive, provide first aid. (There is no danger to you of getting shocked from them).
  • If the victim is burned, look for injuries where the lightning entered and exited.
  • If the strike caused the victim's heart and breathing to stop, let a trained person give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until medical professionals arrive and take over.

While lightning and electrical storms can be very dangerous, even if you cannot see the storm, being prepared and aware of the risks is the easiest way to stay safe. Review this simple guide to make sure you are prepared for the next storm.

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