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Lightning Safety Enlightenment

Greater awareness of thunderstorms’ dangers is saving lives

National Lightning Safety Awareness week was launched in 2001 to call attention to this often underestimated killer. Since then, U.S. lightning fatalities have dropped from about 50 per year to about 30. This decrease in deaths is largely due to greater awareness of the danger lightning poses and to more people seeking safety when thunderstorms threaten.

This year, Lightning Safety Awareness week is June 23–29, and we encourage you to heed these tips and raise your awareness of the dangers of lightning.

Protect Yourself

Use the 30/30 rule: When you see lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. If fewer than 30 seconds pass, the thunderstorm is within 6 miles of you and is dangerous. Immediately seek shelter indoors or in a hardtop vehicle and remain until you have not heard thunder for 30 minutes.

Don’t touch concrete surfaces, including those in a garage. Lightning can travel through the metal wires in concrete walls and flooring. Stay off corded phones and plugged in electronics.

Avoid plumbing and water, including bathing or doing laundry.

Never seek shelter under trees, poles or other tall structures as they are more likely to be struck by lightning.

Protect Your Property

Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers and TVs to prevent damage from surges caused by lightning strikes.

Surge protection can help prevent damage to your electronics. There are two types of surge protection:

  • Point-of-use: Protects devices that are directly plugged into the surge protector from most electrical surges.
  • Whole house: Located at your main electrical panel or the base of the electric meter, this device provides protection for your entire electrical system.

However, neither type can safeguard against a direct lightning strike. If you live in an area prone to lightning, consider a lightning protection system.