Lightning Safety

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year. During the past 30 years, lightning has killed an average of 66 people and injured 300 per year. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur in the spring and summer when thunderstorms are most likely to develop, but development can occur year round. Lightning can strike as far away as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately. A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. Vehicles with a hard metal top also provide protection if you make sure all doors are closed, windows are rolled up, and you do not touch any metal surfaces. Wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before going outside.

Staying Safe While Inside

  • Avoid contact with corded phones, with electrical equipment, or cords.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.

When a Safe Location is not Nearby

  • Get in a low area.
  • Do not seek shelter under tall, isolated structures, trees, or under partially enclosed buildings.
  • Stay away from metal objects such as fences and poles.
  • Stay out of boats and get away from the water.
  • Keep yourself informed. Check weather forecasts before spending extended periods outdoors. While outdoors, watch for signs of approaching storms and keep a NOAA weather radio or AM/FM radio handy.