11 Things We Shouldn’t Do During A Thunderstorm

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There are many ordinary things we do at home during extreme weather that we don’t even think that they could be dangerous to us.

This is not to say that you need to panic every time it starts to thunder and lightning outside.
You just have to be aware of your surroundings, circumstances, and safety.

Because even though your home is generally a safe place during these times, there are still safety rules that shouldn’t be ignored.

Remember, it takes a little bit of knowledge and preparation to protect yourself, your family and home from real dangers.

Here are some safety tips.
Make sure to remember them and stay safe!

Avoid using running water.

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Taking a shower or a bath, washing the dishes, or just using running water for any purpose can be dangerous.

First, it’s because the water pipes are made out of metal (usually steel or copper), which is known to be able to conduct electricity.

Second, tap water, with its countless impurities, allows electricity to flow through it.
So covering yourself with water puts you at risk of an electric current getting to you.

Do not stand near a window.

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You might be inclined to sit near a window during a thunderstorm to witness a bolt of lightning come down from the clouds, but that can be extremely dangerous.

Windows and doors that may contain metal parts can conduct electricity, leaving you at risk of being struck if you stand too to them or electrocuted if you touch them.

You want to be as close to the inner part of your home as possible during a thunderstorm.

Do not sit/lean on concrete.

Image from Huyen Nguyen on Unsplash

It may not be immediately obvious, but you should not sit down or lean on concrete during a thunderstorm because of the metal rebar or wire mesh that is almost always placed within concrete to strengthen it.
Both are effective conductors of electricity.

Don’t touch anything metal or electrical.

Image from Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Using a landline phone is the main cause of lightning-related injuries in the US.

Lightning can travel into the home from through any material that conducts electricity.
This includes landlines, electrical wiring, and plumbing.

Do not keep your devices plugged in.

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Anything that’s plugged into an outlet in your home is at risk of suffering damage from an electrical surge during thunderstorms.

If an electrical storm has been forecast, unplug your computer, laptop, and other devices, and consider unplugging appliances.

At the very least, plug appliances into a surge protector if they aren’t already—but understand the surge protector probably can’t stand up to a nearby lightning strike.

Don’t run a generator indoors.

A portable generator is able to keep your electronics, like refrigerators or air conditioners, running, but it’s better to not use it at all during the storm.

The reason is that this machine emits carbon monoxide that can poison people and cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, and vomiting.

In general, avoid using it in closed areas like the inside of your home, your garage, or your basement.

Do not use candles.

Avoid using candles.
If a fire starts, there may be no phone service, the fire department may not be able to get to you, and fire hydrants may not be working.

Flashlights produce more light and won’t burn your house down.

If you are caught outside..

Find shelter immediately.

If you find yourself caught in a lightning storm, the key to minimizing danger is to get inside a protective structure.

While most people seek shelter if lightning appears to be near, people commonly wait too long to seek shelter.

If you can detect lightning, it may be close enough to strike you.
Don’t wait for it to strike right next to you (or on top of you) to get to safety.

Substantial, frequently inhabited buildings (those grounded with plumbing, electrical systems, and, if possible, lightning rods) are best.

If you can’t find a substantial structure, get in a car with a metal roof and sides.
If the car is struck, the metal body will conduct the electricity around you, not through you.
Make sure all windows are rolled up and doors are closed.

Don’t ignore hair standing on end.

The bottom of the storm is negatively charged, and it looks for positively charged things to transfer the energy to.
That’s what the lightning is.

If your hair begins to stand on end in a lightening storm, that’s a sign that your positive charge is interacting with the negative charge of the storm.

If you notice this happening, get indoors immediately because you are at great risk of getting struck by lightning!

Do not stand next to a tree.

Standing next to a tree in a thunderstorm is basically begging to be struck by lightning.

Lightning looks for the tallest thing to strike, which is often a tree.
If that tree is struck, the lightning travels through it to the ground.

However, wood is not a great conductor of electricity while you (salt and water) are.

The electric current will opt to use your body as well as the tree truck to travel to the ground, very possibly killing you and the tree.

Do not stand out in the open.

So if you can’t stand next to a tree or out in the open, what are you supposed to do?

If you find yourself stuck outside during a thunderstorm with no hope of getting to cover, you should crouch down low, touching as little ground as possible.

This way, lightning will hopefully not pick you as a good route to the ground.

If it still does, then the current will most likely not hit your brain or the majority of your spine.

Don’t go outside directly after a thunderstorm

The “30-30” rule says that if you’re outside and see lightning, you should start counting to 30.
If you hear thunder before getting to 30, then you need to go inside.

But when do you come back outside?

Keeping with the rule, the CDC recommends waiting at least 30 minutes before heading outside again after a thunderstorm.

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