All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. In the United States, an average of 300 people are injured and 80 people are killed each year by lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.
Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage. Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- “If thunder roars, go indoors.” No place outside is safe when lightning is in the area.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
- If unable to get indoors, seek shelter in a low area and be alert for flash flooding and flying debris.
- Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas. Avoid anything metal: tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles and golf carts.
- If on open water, get to land and find shelter immediately.
- Your hair standing on end is an indication that lightning is about to strike. If this happens, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. Do not lie flat on the ground.
The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:
- Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
- Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also, be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.