Lightning and Thunderstorms
Lightning causes more deaths annually in the United States than tornadoes and hurricanes combined. More than 200 people die each year from lightning or from fires caused by lightning.
You can take the following steps to protect yourself from lightning:
- When a thunderstorm threatens, get inside a home, large building, or car.
- If outside, go to a low place such as a ravine. In a forest, look for shelter in a low area or a grove of small trees.
- Always be alert for flash floods.
- Inside the home, avoid using the telephone except for emergencies.
- Also avoid bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks with metal pipes that can conduct electricity.
- If you are outside and do not have time to reach a safe building or automobile, follow these rules:
- Do not stand under a natural lightning rod such as a tall isolated tree in an open area.
- Do not stand on a hilltop or in an open field.
- Get away from lakes and water, including beaches and fishing lakes.
- Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in an open area.
- Stay away from motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, metal tools, golf carts, and golf clubs.
- Get away from tractors and other metal farm equipment as well as wire fences, clotheslines, pipes, rails, and other metallic paths which could carry lightning to you from some distance away.
Know the difference between a thunderstorm watch and a thunderstorm warning. A severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather. A severe thunderstorm warning means severe weather is imminent, and you should seek shelter immediately. You can find the definitions of all watches, warnings and advisories on the National Weather Service's definitions page.
For more information on storm safety, please see the following:
Red Cross Thunderstorm Information
Ready Wisconsin on Thunderstorms
National Weather Service: Severe Thunderstorm Safety and Lightning Safety