Lightning Safety Rules

Did you know that lightning kills more Americans than tornadoes and hurricanes each year? On the average, six people die each year in Texas from lightning strikes. Being inside a building or even a car during a thunderstorm can decrease the chances of you being struck by lightning. Stay up to date on weather conditions when planning camping trips, swimming, fishing, golf or other outdoor activities. Should severe weather appear, tune to a local radio station for information.

That quick dash out in the open when a thunderstorm is in the area may unnecessarily expose you to the possibility of being struck. Is it worth the risk?

  • If you are outside, get into an enclosed building; large, substantially constructed buildings tend to be much safer than smaller or open structures. Or, get into an all-metal (not convertible) vehicle.
  • In general, fully enclosed all metal vehicles with the windows rolled up provide good shelter from lightning. Avoid contact with metal.
  • Inside a home, avoid using the telephone except for emergencies or electrical appliances. Also, stay away from windows.
  • Avoid being in or near high places and open fields, isolated trees, unprotected gazebos, rain or picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, towers, flagpoles, light poles, bleachers of any type, metal fences, convertible vehicles, golf carts, motorcycles, scooters, riding lawn mowers, and water (ocean, lakes, swimming pools, rivers, ponds,etc.)
  • Move away from open water or from open tractors or other farm equipment.
  • Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, rails or other metallic paths which could carry lightning to you from some distance away.
  • In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. In open areas, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike. Stay on the balls of your feet, but crouch down and make as low a target of yourself as possible. Do not lie flat on the ground.
  • Remember, there is no truth to the old myth that lightning never strikes twice.

The 30/30 Rule for Lightning Safety

This rule for lightning safety could save your life. The first '30' means that you need to take cover if you hear thunder within 30 seconds of the lightning flash (flash to bang ratio). Then wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or thunder to resume normal activity.