You’re going about your day, and like any other summer day it’s hot. The sun is shining brightly, the air might be a bit more humid that normal and in the distance you can see clouds starting to pile up. You hear a quiet rumble but it seems far away so you disregard it. It’s just a passing storm, nothing to pay any attention to right? Guess again.
Every year in Arizona we experience storms that occur nearly daily and people are often injured or even killed from the dangers these quick forming and passing storms hold. Many of us have heard the yearly warnings that the media tells us. Don’t cross flooded roadways. If you are driving and heavy rains are making it hard to see, pull off to the side of the road and turn off your cars lights. What about lightning safety? Just how much do you know about lightning?
Did you know that annually there are on average 51 lightning strike fatalities and many injuries caused by lightning? Lightning is only surpassed by flooding in causing weather related fatalities in the U.S.
Did you know that in 2018, Arizona had over a half million cloud-to-ground flashes? This doesn’t even count lightning that occurs within the clouds!
So what can you do to stay safe during a thunderstorm? What can you do to keep your home or even your work place safe during a thunderstorm?
If you have outdoor activities planned, be prepared
- Always check the forecast before heading out for an afternoon activity. If there is potential for a storm be prepared to pack up and head indoors.
- Avoid standing under trees. As trees and other tall objects are naturally attract lightning, if is a good idea to steer clear of any tall objects.
- Avoid fields. As you would be the tallest object in an open field, you then become the mostly likely object to be struck.
- Fencing can electrocute. If there is a metal fence going off into the distance, you can’t see where it ends. If it is under a nearby storm and it is struck, that fence becomes an electrified fence.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Did you know lightning can strike up to 15 miles from its point of origin. So even if the storm isn’t directly overhead, you can still be struck.
- Your car may not be safe. Despite common belief, your car isn’t a safe place to be during a lightning storm. It doesn’t conduct the lightning around the interior of the car because your car isn’t made of metal. You can be struck while inside your vehicle.
Stay Safe Indoors
If it connects outdoors you can be struck!
- Avoid washing dishes or taking a shower during a storm. The pipes lead out of the house and can be struck by lightning despite being underground.
- Avoid using your computer if it is plugged in.
- Avoid using corded phones or even your cell phone if it is plugged in.
- Stay away from exterior doors and windows, doors that might contain metal components that lead to outside your home.
- Stay off balconies, porches, open garages, and car ports.
- Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. They contain rebar which can conduct electricity.
- Protect your pets! Bring them indoors during thunderstorms. Dog houses are not safe shelters. Chains and metal runners often used for pets are natural conductors.
Save Your Belongings
Unplug your electronics when there is threat of a storm. Lightning generates electric surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike.
- Surge protectors will not protect your equipment from a lightning strike.
- Unplug before the storm. The last thing you want to do is touch something that can be struck during a storm. Be aware of the weather and unplug ahead of time including:
- Stereo systems
- Modems and routers
- Disconnect your cable line from the wall
- If you don’t want to replace it unplug it!
With a few simple steps you can remain safe during a monsoon storm. Use wise practices and a little safety to keep yourself and your family safe this year. Remember, lightning safety is a big part of monsoon safety. So while you might remember not to cross that flooded roadway, also remember skip taking that shower when the skies are talking.