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What to Do During a Thunderstorm

thunderstorm is a weather phenomenon characterized by the presence of lightning and thunder. A thunderstorm is believed to be quite dangerous for humans. Often, it’s accompanied by heavy rain, strong winds, and in some cases even hail.

5-Minute Crafts would like to tell you about what to do during a thunderstorm if you are indoors, outside, or in a car, as well as how to behave after a thunderstorm.

❗ Important: this article is for informative purposes only. For more details, turn to expert recommendations.

What to do during a thunderstorm if you’re at home or inside a building

Homes, offices, and shopping malls are safe places to be during a thunderstorm. However, you can still be at risk — people get injured indoors because of lightning in 1/3 of all cases. Here are some tips on how to keep safe:

  • Stay away from windows, front doors, and concrete walls. Close front doors and windows and stay away from them. Also, don’t lean against concrete walls. Lightning can pass through any metal wires or bars in concrete structures or floors.
  • Avoid water. During a thunderstorm, don’t bathe or shower, swim in a pool, don’t do dishes, and limit any other contact with water because lightning can travel through building plumbing.
  • Limit the use of electronic equipment. Try not to use computers, laptops, game consoles, washing machines, electric stoves, or other devices that are connected to the electricity through a power outlet. Lightning can pass through electrical systems, radio and television reception systems, and any metal wires or gratings in concrete walls or floors.
  • Turn off all electrical appliances. If possible, unplug all non-essential devices, especially if you don’t use a surge protector.
  • Don’t use wired phones. For the reasons mentioned above, wired telephones also should not be used during a thunderstorm. However, it’s safe to use cordless or mobile phones.
  • Avoid contact with metal objects. For example, with garden equipment, motorcycles, bicycles, and so on.
  • Stay indoors for at least 30 minutes after a thunderstorm. Try not to leave your home, office, or building within half an hour after you last hear thunder or see lightning.

What to do during a thunderstorm if you’re outside

If you are caught in a thunderstorm when outdoors, in an open area, in a forest, or on a body of water, follow these tips:

  • Find a safe shelter immediately. Go to the nearest residential building, office, mall, or get into a hard-top vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • Reduce the risk of being struck by lightning. If you find yourself in an open area and there is no safe shelter nearby, get off of elevated areas immediately. If you are on a body of water, leave it immediately and stay away from the water.
  • Don’t stay in open vehicles or constructions. Don’t ride a motorcycle or a car with an open top or a fabric roof during a thunderstorm. Avoid terraces, gazebos, and sports arenas. Stay away from open spaces like parks, playgrounds, ponds, lakes, pools, and beaches.
  • Avoid trees and objects that conduct electricity. Never take shelter from a thunderstorm under lone trees or rocky ledges. Stay away from metal fences, power lines, and other similar objects. The best option would be to find low ground like a ravine, which is at a safe distance from trees, poles, and metal objects.
  • Never lie down on the ground. If you find yourself in an open area, squat close to the ground, with your hands on your knees and with your head tucked between them. Try to touch the ground with your body as little as possible.

What to do if you’re driving a car during a thunderstorm

A metal roof car is supposed to be a safe shelter during a thunderstorm, so it’s a good idea to just close the windows and stay in the car. In most cases, if lightning strikes a car with a metal roof and frame, the current will pass through the frame and go into the ground. However, please note:

  • A car can be damaged both internally and externally by a lightning strike.
  • Convertibles with soft tops and fabric roofs are most at risk and can catch fire if struck by lightning.
  • Current can flow through other parts of the vehicle, including the GPS system, radio, metal knobs, pedals, and steering wheels. For these reasons, don’t touch metal surfaces inside or outside the vehicle during a thunderstorm.

If you are driving during a thunderstorm, try to drive slowly, especially if there is hail, heavy rain, or strong winds. If driving conditions get worse, find a safe place to pull over and park, and stay in your car until the storm is over.

What to do after a thunderstorm

  • Check the area around you for hazards. Stay away from damaged buildings and power lines.
  • Check for burns or other injuries. Take a good look at yourself and see a doctor if necessary. Also, take a look at the people around you. If someone has been struck by lightning, call an ambulance immediately.
  • Check the house for damage. If you have a power outage, notify your utility company. If you think there is a gas leak, go outside immediately, don’t turn any electrical appliances on or off, and call 911.
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