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How To Be Safe From Lightning

UPDATED June 23, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologists

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Flash! Boom! Another lightning bolt, following by the rolling clap of thunder, streaks through the air as a thunderstorm fast approaches. Common throughout spring and summer, thunderstorms should send everyone scurrying for cover.

On average, several dozen people are killed each year by lightning in the U.S. The following tips will help you stay safe before, during and after a thunderstorm.

Before the Storm

It is important to know how to recognize when you are at risk for a lightning storm. Knowing that a storm is coming will allow you to make plans to be indoors before the storm strikes.

  • Check WeatherBug for the forecast before heading out.
  • Check the Spark Lightning Alerts on WeatherBug Android and iphone smartphone application, a GPS-based lightning detection feature that provides the closest lightning strike, so you can Know Before the storm hits.
  • Storms can form overhead, so always check the sky for large cumulus clouds as these are the first sign of thunderstorms.
  • If you feel like a storm is on its way it is imperative to stop your outdoor activities and move to a safe indoor area. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.
  • Lightning can strike before the rain, so be someplace safe before the threat is upon you.

Outside in the Storm

You should never be outside during a thunderstorm. If you are outside when a storm strikes find shelter as soon as possible.

Inside During a Storm

Indoors is the safest place during a storm. There are still hazards to watch out for.

  • Do not use corded phones. Lightning can travel through the phone lines and electrocute you.
  • Lightning can also travel through pipes. Do not take showers, bathes or do dishes while a thunderstorm is occurring.
  • Have flashlight and/or candles ready. Power failures often occur during thunderstorms.
  • Unplug or turn off electronics. Lightning can cause damaging power surges.

Struck by a Storm

If you see someone get struck by lightning it is important that you help them as soon as possible.

  • Don`t worry, people struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
  • The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned where they were struck and where the electricity left their body.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR.

It is important to help victims as soon as possible because left untreated, people struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and an inability to sit for long periods of time.

Make sure that you download the WeatherBug app on your smart phone before you head out on any outdoor activities. The mobile app now includes Spark Lightning Alerts, a GPS-based lightning detection feature providing you the location of the closest lightning strike, so you can Know Before the storm hits. Click here for the link to download.

Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.

Source: National Weather Service

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Story image: WeatherBug user Glenn Holland of Southlake, Texas, took this picture of a dangerous lightning storm.

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