Indoor Lightning Safety Tips

“One Mississippi, two Mississippi…” Remember counting between each roll of thunder to determine how far away a storm was? Did you huddle under a blanket with a flash light when it was dark and stormy? Did you run to your parents because the thunder was loud and scary? Did you turn the television off or keep on watching your show because you believed that lightning wasn’t going to strike? Did you run to the window see the power and beauty of the storm as it neared you?  While indoor lightning injuries are rare, they can occur at your home or office.

Here are a few indoor lightning tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prepare you for the next storm:

  • Stay OFF corded phones. Prince George’s County Emergency Management Director, Ronnie Gill wants residents to be aware that use of corded phones during severe weather can lead to injury. Corded phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. You can use cellular or cordless phones if they are not on a charger.
  • Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Don’t touch electrical equipment or cords. Unplug electronic equipment or turn off electronics before the storm arrives. Most surge protectors are NOT able to protect your electronics from a lightning strike or surge. The American Meteorological Society has tips for protecting your electronics from lightning. Do NOT unplug equipment during  a thunderstorm as there is a risk you could be struck.
  • Avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower or wash dishes.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.  Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Close window blinds, shades and curtains.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or chained to wire runners can easily fall victim to a lightning strike. Bring pets inside.

Did you know that lightning can enter your home or building?

There are three main ways lightning can enter homes and buildings:

  • A direct strike
  • Through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure
  • Through the ground.

Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring or electrical, through phone lines, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems.

Your Chances of Being Struck By Lightning Are About 1 In 600,000

But Could Be Even Less By Following These Safety Tips:

  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely;
  • Remember that rubber-soled shoes DO NOT provide protection from lightning; and
  • Use the 30/30 lightning safety rule — Go indoors if after you see lightning, if you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

Shameless Plug

Residents of Prince George’s County can register to receive alerts and notifications via your mobile device through NotifyMe Prince George’s.

Here is an additional video on indoor lighting:

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