Woman carrying child inside house

Each year the US experiences over 100,000 thunderstorms and while the largest threat extends from Minnesota to Texas, every state can be at risk with little to no warning.

To protect yourself, your family and your home from the dangers of a thunderstorm, consider these safety tips:

Safety tips if you’re indoors

Being indoors does not automatically protect you from lightning. Here are some tips to keep you safe and reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while indoors.

  • Avoid contact with water during a thunderstorm. Do NOT bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing.
  • Avoid using electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems.
  • Avoid using corded phones. Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm.
  • Avoid concrete floors and walls. Do NOT lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
  • Stay away from windows, skylights, and doors.
  • If you have advanced notice of a storm, consider turning off circuit breakers to avoid power surges that may occur from a lightning strike.
  • Monitor local news or NOAA Weather radio for any emergency watches or warnings

Safety tips if you’re outdoors

  • Take shelter when you see dark clouds or lightning or hear thunder.
  • If you are caught in an area without shelter, avoid lying flat on the ground. Crouch down in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ears while minimizing contact with the ground.
  • Avoid elevated areas such as hills or peaks and never shelter under an isolated tree.
  • Get off bicycles, motorcycles, scooters or other small vehicles.
  • If you’re in the water, head for shore immediately and avoid metal objects. Water and metal can both carry an electrical current.
  • If you're in a group of people, spread out.
  • Watch out for any downed power or utility lines that could injure you or others

Lastly, don’t forget the 30-30 rule to determine the threat of lighting. Count the seconds between seeing lighting and hearing thunder. If this time is less than 30 seconds, the lighting is close enough to be a threat.

Find other ways to protect your family by making your home more resilient to severe weather by visiting the Institute for Business and Home Safety website at disastersafety.org.

RELATED RESOURCES

FEMA  |  IBHS  |  American Red Cross  | National Weather Service

[1] Source: National Weather Service, https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning

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Nationwide offers this information to help you make decisions that may help you mitigate your risk. Of course, we can't address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that you will consider which of these may help you in your efforts to protect your family and yourself.