We’ve all been caught outside during a thunderstorm before, and we all know how dangerous lightning strikes can be. The best way to prevent yourself from being struck by lighting is to know the best ways of protecting yourself before, during, and after the actual thundercloud has passed. On average, lightning kills more people than every other natural phenomenon, except for flooding. That is why it is important for you to know how to protect yourself, your family, and others so that you can avoid a terrible tragedy.
The first thing you should do when you see lightning or hear thunder is to take shelter in the nearest house or building. If none are nearby, try to find the nearest hooded car to take shelter in. Make sure the car has its windows rolled up as well. Either way, do not touch anything metal while you are in the building or car, because if lightning were to strike either structure it could travel through the metal and into you. Also, do not take a shower while you are in a building because there is the chance, albeit it small, that the lightning can travel down the plumbing of the building and right into the shower that you are in. It is also safest not to use any electrical devices that are plugged into an outlet (wireless ones are fine), just to be safe.
If there are no buildings or cars you can take shelter in and you are caught outside, make sure you avoid open and high areas, as well as avoid any standing water. Do not take shelter underneath or nearby a tree, because if lightning hits the tree it will superheat the water and sap inside of the tree, causing rapid expansion inside of the tree, and essentially the tree will blow up from the inside out, and it will not only burn you if you come into contact with the superheated liquids, but it will also send extremely sharp and dangerous pieces of wood hurtling at you, and they can kill you fairly easily. Make sure to also avoid other tall structures, small open structures (such as dugouts), bleachers, and anything that is metal.
If you are caught out in the open with no shelter, do not lie down on the ground! When lightning strikes the ground it spreads in all directions in an arcing pattern. By lying down you are simply increasing your chances of being hit by one of these “lighting arcs” that spread across the ground. What you should do is crouch down as far down as you can go while still having only your two feet touching the ground, so that you are in a squatting position. This makes you the smallest target, both vertically and horizontally, which is the best thing to do in order to try and avoid being struck. If you are with other people, make sure you all crouch down, but do so at least 15 feet from each other to avoid side flashes, or in other words, to ensure that if one person is struck the lightning won’t redirect from them to other nearby people.
Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the original thundercloud, so it is always a good idea to take cover if you can see dark clouds coming in the distance. Many lightning strikes on people occur before there is even any rain present, so if you see the storm coming try to find some shelter as soon as possible. Also, there are many other lightning strikes reported within the 30 minutes after the thunderstorm has passed, so you should stay inside of your shelter for at least 30 since the last lightning strike is seen or clap of thunder is heard.
If a person who is with you or nearby you is struck by lightning, do not hesitate to help them, they will not hold any electrical charge on their body. However, you should try to keep low and bring them to a safe area if possible because the lightning could strike again. If the person who is struck is not breathing, CPR should be given to them. Every death from a lightning strike is due to cardiac arrest and from stopped breathing, and CPR is the only thing you can do to help them.
Remember, the best thing you can do to reduce your chances of being stuck by lightning is to be prepared whenever a thunderstorm comes around.