15 may 2023

Safety rules during a thunderstorm

The main danger during a thunderstorm is lightning.

Lightning is a powerful electrical discharge that has a high voltage, a current of hundreds of thousands of amperes and a temperature of up to 25.000 degrees. A lightning strike can cause a deep loss of consciousness, paralysis, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest.

There are three types of lightning: linear, pearl, and ball.

Lightning strikes most commonly open places or lone trees, less often buildings and even rarer forest areas, so if you see a thunderstorm approaching, you should stop and start searching for a highest priority shelter.

In an apartment or a house

If a thunderstorm breaks out when you are indoors, turn off the TV, radio, and other electrical appliances, stay away from the wiring and antennas, close the windows, and do not touch metal objects.

In a private house, a particular danger during a thunderstorm is a heating stove: smoke coming out of the chimney has a high electrical conductivity, so it can attract lightning.

When waiting out a thunderstorm in a private house, close windows and chimneys tightly, unplug all the electrical appliances, turn off the outdoor antenna, stay away from the windows, fireplaces, massive metal objects, do not climb to the attic or roof.

In the forest

If a rain catches you in the forest, take cover among low trees with dense crowns. During a thunderstorm, it is dangerous to be on edges, large glades, or water bodies.

Do not look for a shelter under tall or isolated trees, much less lean against their trunks: a direct lightning strike on a tree can break it into splinters and therefore injure people standing nearby.

Do not wait out a thunderstorm near a fire: the warm air flow coming out of it is a good conductor of electricity. Do not climb tall trees. The safest thunderstorm shelters are lowlands with arrays of low trees.

In an open space

If a rain catches you in the open, first of all make sure that you are not the top point of the area, which has the highest risk of being hit by lightning. In a treeless space, the best places to hide from a thunderstorm are dry pits, ditches, and ravines. The only reason to leave such shelters during rain is if they begin to fill with water.

If a thunderstorm breaks out when you are on a sports field, stop exercising and go to a shelter. Do not walk barefoot, put on your shoes. Do not stay near metal fences, power lines, or wires. Do not hide in premises of solitary nonresidential structures.

By the water

If you see a thunderstorm approaching while resting on a river or lake, do not swim or boat and move away from the shore immediately. But do not try to hide in the coastal bushes, find a different shelter.

In transport

If a thunderstorm catches you while driving, do not leave the car. Park on the side of the road, away from tall trees, turn off the engine, close the windows, lower the radio antenna, and wait out the weather. For bicyclists and motorcyclists, the best thing to do during the breaking out of a thunderstorm is to lay their vehicles on the ground and move at a distance of at least 30 meters.

Ball lightning

Science still knows very little about ball lightning, and yet it can give advice on how to deal with the phenomenon. So if you see ball lightning in an open area, move away from it without making sudden movements. In case it takes you by surprise when you are indoors, slowly leave the room, then lie down on the floor, hide under a table or bed, and wait.

Do not try to drive ball lightning away. They tend to explode when colliding with objects, resulting in fire and burning.

Other pages about safety