Friday, August 1, 2014

Thunderstorms & Lightning: What You Should Do

Tragedy occurred in Southern California last week when lightning struck at Venice Beach, killing a young man and injuring thirteen others. Although reports of people being struck by lightning may be rare, it’s important to understand the dangers of thunderstorms. 

Keep reading to learn how you can protect yourself from lightning!

Storm Safety Indoors

Despite the shelter provided by homes and other buildings, you could still be in danger during a thunderstorm. You can help keep your family safe by following these guidelines:

Avoid water.
Lightning can travel through the plumbing, so during a storm do not wash dishes or laundry, bathe, shower, or use any of your faucets.

Stay away from windows and doors.
Avoid going near any openings, as they provide less protection from lightning. Close all blinds, curtains, shutters, and shades.

Stay away from concrete.
Avoid concrete floors and do not lean on concrete walls during a thunderstorm, because lightning can pass through the metal bars and wires inside of the concrete.

Don’t use corded phones.
Because lightning can pass through an outlet and into a corded phone, you should only use a cellphone or cordless phone during a storm.

Avoid appliances and electronics.
Lightning can pass through anything that is connected to an electrical outlet, so stay away from computers, gaming systems, stoves, washers, dryers, and anything else that is plugged into the wall. You should also consider buying whole-house surge protectors to protect your electronics and appliances in the event of a power surge.

Storm Safety Outdoors

If you hear thunder while you are outdoors, immediately head for a safe and enclosed shelter, such as a home, office, shopping center, store, or hard-top vehicle. If you are unable to get inside, follow these steps to help avoid being struck by lightning:

Immediately get off any elevated area.
If you are on a hill, mountain ridge or peak, or in a tree, get to lower ground as soon as possible.

Get out of the water immediately.
Water is a strong conductor of electricity, so if you hear thunder while in an ocean, lake, pond, or pool, get on land as soon as possible.

Do not lie down on the ground.
A lightning strike causes currents to pass along the ground’s surface, and you could be seriously hurt if you are lying down. Instead, crouch down with your knees and feet together, tuck your head, and place your hands over your ears. This will make you the smallest possible target while also minimizing your contact with the ground.

Stay away from natural lightning rods.
Don’t seek shelter under isolated trees, sheds, or small structures in open areas. Instead, try to find lower ground, such as a valley or ravine.

Avoid proximity to others.
If you are in a group, everyone should separate and stay at least fifteen feet apart. This space will help reduce the number of injuries if lightning hits the ground.

Stay away from anything made of metal.
Metal is a powerful conductor of electricity, so stay far away from bikes, motorcycles, metal fences, golf clubs and carts, farm equipment, and construction equipment.

Storm Safety in Vehicles

A hard-top vehicle can help protect you during a thunderstorm. If you are driving, safely pull to the side of the road, shut off your engine, and turn on your hazard lights. Then do the following:
  • Keep your windows rolled up
  • Keep your hands folded in your lap
  • Avoid touching anything metal in the vehicle
  • Do not touch the steering wheel, pedals, or radio
  • Do not talk on your cell phone, especially if it’s plugged in
  • Stay on the side of the road with your car off until the storm passes
Although the tips above can help you avoid being struck by lightning, the best way to protect yourself is to pay attention to the weather forecast for your area and be prepared if a thunderstorm is coming your way. If a storm does pass through your area, continue to shelter for at least thirty minutes after the last sound of thunder.

De Castroverde Law Group is a family-run law firm that represents injury and accident victims in the Las Vegas area.

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