Why Prepare?

Basic Preparedness
Getting Informed
Planning and Checklists
Special Needs
Disaster Supplies Kit

Natural Hazards
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Extreme heat
Landslides and debris flow

Technological Hazards
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies

Biological threats
Chemical threats
Nuclear blasts
Radiological dispersion device events

Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Returning home
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
Helping others

Thunderstorm and Lightning

All thunderstorms are dangerous as every one produces lightning. In the United States, averages of 300 people are injured and 80 people are killed each year by lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.
Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities—more than 140 annually—than any other risk linked with thunderstorms.
Dry thunderstorms that have raindrops evaporating before hitting the ground can have lightning that still reaches the ground and starts wildfires.
The following are facts about thunderstorms:
They may occur singly, in clusters or in lines

Some of the most severe occur when a single thunderstorm distresses one location for an extended time

Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period

Warm, humid conditions are favorable for thunderstorms
The following are facts about lightning:
Lightning’s unpredictability increases risks to individuals and property

Lightning may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall

“Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard

Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months

Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

Know the Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a thunderstorm hazard:
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to radio or television for information.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before Thunderstorms and Lightning?

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage

Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rules: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder


The following are guidelines for what you should do if a thunderstorm is likely in your area:

Postpone outdoor activities

Get inside a home, building or hard top automobile

The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides protection as long as you are not touching metal

Secure outdoor objects

Shutter windows and secure outside doors

Avoid showering or bathing

Unplug all appliances and other electrical items

Use a battery-operated radio for updates
Avoid the following:
Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area

Hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water

Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas

Anything metal

What do I do During a Thunderstorm?

If you are:

In a forest:

Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees

In an open area:

Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley

Be alert for flash floods

On open water:

Get to land and find shelter immediately

Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end:

Which indicates that lightning is about to strike

Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet

Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees

Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground

DO NOT lie flat on the ground

What do I do After a Thunderstorm?

Call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible.
The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:
Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR


Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body.

Also be alert for nervous system damage

Broken bones

Loss of hearing

Loss of eyesight