It’s no secret that dangerous weather demands quick action to protect lives and property, but sometimes the risk may not be obvious. Do you really know what to do to protect yourself and those you care about? Do you know which storm advice may do more harm than good? Read on to discover some little-known weather safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe and sound — no matter how nasty it is outside.
Lightning Can Leak Inside: Staying Safe at Home
You may have heard the phrase “when thunder roars, go indoors. ” This is great advice, as most people who are hurt by lightning are outside when it happens. However, sometimes lightning can do its dirty work in a home. Here are some tips to keep you safe while waiting out the storm behind four walls.
Is it Safe to Shower During a Storm?
Lightning is a giant electrical spark, and nearby strikes could travel through the pipes into your home. Plastic pipes don’t offer complete protection, because water is a conductor of electricity and could follow you into the shower. The odds of a “shower strike” are remote, but it’s still a threat, so do your best to wait out the storm before you take your next shower.
Is it Safe to Use Your Electronics?
While talking on a cellphone during a thunderstorm won’t cause you any harm, a South Carolina teenager was recently stunned by lightning while trying to unplug her cellphone charger indoors during a thunderstorm. While such incidents are rare, they do happen. Unplug these devices before the storm shows up! Additionally, it is wise to shut down desktops, laptops and the like whenever possible before storms arrive. If they’re on power strips, turn those off too. Appliances such as clothes dryers, washers and refrigerators are full of electronic components, and they’re easily damaged by power surges and not cheap to fix, so consider having each of them on a power strip.
Is it Safe to Be on the Porch?
Staying indoors as a storm passes means inside your four walls. Hanging out on the porch is still outside, where you’re more vulnerable to danger. One Texas woman found this out the hard way when lightning streaked across her yard and struck her while she was storm-gazing from the porch. She survived, but with significant injuries.
Dodging Lightning Outside
Most lightning deaths and injuries are going to happen outside — that’s just the nature of the beast. Here’s what to keep in mind if a storm strikes while you’re outside.
Where Should You Take Shelter?
Electricity seeks the path of least resistance, which usually means the shortest route between points A and B. Never seek shelter from storms underneath tall objects like trees, as these are more likely to be struck. Metallic objects like partially enclosed bus stops are not a good choice either, as they conduct electricity. Avoid swimming pools, hot tubs or any other wet area — water conducts electricity too. Concrete walls are often reinforced with — guess what — steel bars, so give them a wide berth as well.
How Can You Stay Safe While Camping?
Camping, boating and other lake activities may leave you in an area with poor cell coverage, increasing your chances of being surprised by a storm. Campsite restrooms are a good choice for shelter; if you’re on water, head to shore immediately. Don’t wait — if you can hear thunder, the storm is already too close for comfort. Shelter in your vehicle if the only other choice is out in the open. Fasten your seat belt and hunker down the best you can. RVs should be avoided as shelter as they can be easily flipped in strong winds.
The Easiest Way to Protect Yourself From Lightning
Remaining weather-aware is the key to staying safe during storms so that surprises are few and far between. Having a plan of action and following it during storms, knowing what to do and what to avoid, will greatly improve your odds of staying safe. Remember, lightning offers a serious threat of showing up unannounced, so a lightning detector might be something you want in your weather toolbox.
There are tons of mobile weather apps with radar — some even show lightning — but they’re pretty worthless if you don’t have mobile service, you forgot to charge your phone or the cell tower is out. If you are an avid camper or hiker, consider purchasing an AcuRite Portable Lightning Detector to keep with you on your outdoor adventures. Lightning creates a magnetic field that the device uses to pick up on the danger. It can be worn on your belt or put in your purse or pocket, and is about the size of a deck of cards. To monitor lightning while at home, investing in a robust weather station like the AcuRite Atlas™ will keep you on top of any storms that may come your way.