Lightning kills an average of 62 people per year, according to the National Weather Service. Thunderstorms can strike year round, so it pays to know how to protect yourself and your family from injury and death from lightning. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Proximity. When you see lightning, start counting until you hear the thunder. Calculate the distance to the site of the lightning strike at 5 seconds per mile. The farther away from lightning, the safer you are.
- Shelter. A large enclosed building is the safest refuge. Stay away from windows and metal appliances—lightning can flow through metal and jump to the nearest person. If driving, stay in your car and keep the windows closed.
- Safety outside. If you can’t get to shelter, stay low, but don’t lie on the ground. Avoid tall trees. Discard anything metal that you may be carrying. If in a group of people, don’t huddle together. If you feel your skin tingle, or your hair standing on end (signs of an impending lightning strike), crouch as low as you can without touching the ground any more than you have to.
- Emergency care. Call for medical assistance as quickly as possible if someone is struck by lightning. If the victim is unconscious, apply CPR; he or she may appear to be dead, but CPR can revive the person if applied immediately.