When lightning strikes, you don't want to be around.
Following an incident this week where a number of young Boy Scouts suffered minor injuries when their campground was struck by lightning, the National Weather Service has offered these tips on what to do when you see lightning.
First and foremost, seek shelter from the storm. A house or other substantial building such as a store or school offer the best protection from lightning. When choosing a shelter, the most important thing to consider what would happen to that structure should it be struck, as opposed to the liklihood of it being struck.
Small structures such as bus stops or those found at camp sites, golf courses, athletic fields or picnic areas are designed to protect you from the sun and rain, not lightning. A general rule of thumb is that if the structure does not have plumbing or electrical running through it, it will not provide adaquate protection against a lightning strike.
There are 3 ways that lightning can enter your home or inside a building:
- A direct strike
- Through wires or pipes that extend outside of the structure
- Through the ground
Regardless of how lightning enters your home, once inside it can travel through electrical wires and components, phone wires, plumbing components or any wire or metal bars that make up the foundation of your home.
As such, here are some tips on how to decrease your risk of lightning strike while inside your home:
- Avoid contact with concrete walls or floors that may contain metal reinforcing bars.
- Stay away from washers and dryers since they contain not only electrical and plumbing components, but provide a path from the outside dryer vent as well.
- Unplug important electrical items such as TV's or computers that do not have surge protections prior to the arrival of a lightning storm.
- Avoid contact with corded phones.
- Do not shower, do dishes or wash clothes during a storm. Avoiding contact with plumbing components is strongly urged.