Lightning strikes kill an average of 49 people in the United States each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more than 400 people are hit by bolts each year. But if you prepare before an outdoor event and know how to protect yourself, you can keep your family safe from lightning. Follow these tips from NOAA:
Plan ahead. Just as you have an emergency plan for fires and weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, form an action plan for lightning. Choose a safe shelter and time how long it takes to get there.
Check the weather. A simple forecast can tell you whether you should delay outdoor activities to avoid a dangerous situation.
Look to the sky. Dark skies, whipping winds and lightning flashes are all signs that you should stay indoors.
Seek shelter. As soon as you hear a rumble of thunder, head for a safe place—an enclosed structure with plumbing and wiring is best or find a car. Open-air shelters, sheds and covered porches are often not safe places. Avoid tall trees that stand alone, towers, poles, and metal fences and other conductors of electricity. And keep out of open areas so that you’re not the tallest object in a field.
Wait it out. Leaving shelter too quickly makes you vulnerable to lightning strikes. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before you head back outdoors.
Avoid corded phones and appliances. If you’re indoors when a storm hits, do not use phones or appliances with cords. Lightning can travel through your home’s wiring. Water is also a great conductor of electricity, so don’t take a bath or shower.
If someone near you has been struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. A certified person should begin CPR right away if necessary.