The flash of lightning and the boom of thunder can be frightening. Many people suffer from astraphobia. I prefer that a person have a healthy respect for lightning and thunder. Thunder is just noise but it accompanies one of nature's most powerful forces.
If the weatherman says that thunderstorms are in the area or even just a possibility, go indoors. About 2,000 people die every year when struck by lightning. Many more survive the strikes but are left with varying degrees of physical and mental problems. In your house or in another suitable building is where you will be the safest. And remember that lightning can strike from as far away as 20 miles so do not wait for the rain to begin.
The 30-30 rule is a good one to follow. If you can see lightning count the time until you hear thunder. If it is 30 seconds or less the lightning is about 6 miles away. Take shelter immediately. Because the threat of lightning is not over right away do not venture out until 30 minutes since the last clap of thunder was heard.
Lightning loves water. In and around water can be the most dangerous place to be. If there are storm warnings get your boat or yourself out of the water as quickly as possible. If you are on the beach seek immediate shelter. Do not let the children wade in puddles.
All persons responsible for the safety of others need to be aware of weather conditions. When there is a danger of lightning all outdoor activities should cease and shelter should be taken. Coaches, teachers, camp activities directors, and anyone taking part in outdoor activities needs to take the necessary precautions.
When you are inside stay away from windows and doors. Lightning can target you through them. Telephones are dangerous too. That includes cell phones. Stay out of the bath tub or shower. All that metal is a calling card for lightning.
Many people immediately unplug all electrical appliances. This is a good idea. It keeps them from falling victim to surges if lightning hits you house or a nearby tree. Surge protectors do not protect against lightning. Be sure if you are unplugging to do it before the storm hits. It is too dangerous after that.
The best shelters have some sort of conductor to the ground such as plumbing, electrical wiring, or other electrical conductors. Most outdoor shelters are designed to protect from rain and sun. They do not protect you from lightning. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds do not keep you safe from lightning strikes and should be avoided.
Concrete floors in a garage usually contain metal reinforcements. Do not lie on the floor of the garage. Concrete walls in your basement pose the same risk. Other than that your basement should be safe.
An automobile with a metal top can be safe as long as you do not touch any of the metal while you are in the car. Make sure the windows are closed. It is not the rubber tires that make a car reasonably safe. It is the metal that allows the electrical charge to travel into the ground.
Usually lightning strikes the highest object in the area. Do not stand in the middle of a parking lot or field. You are inviting danger. Do not stand under a tree or near any structure or pole because if it is struck you will feel the lightning too. Even the fence around your yard is unsafe. If you have a backpack get rid of it. It probably contains metal.
An umbrella keeps the rain off your face. But it makes you taller and a better target for lightning. As a matter of fact you are more likely to survive a lightning strike if you are wet than if you are dry. Your bicycle is not safe either.
Victims of a lightning strike do not retain the electrical charge. It is safe to administer first aid including CPR to a person hit by lightning. You might save a life. Remember to call 911.
If you are caught in the open do not lay down flat on the ground. You leave more area to absorb electricity from the ground if you lay flat. The best thing to do if you cannot reach shelter is to crouch down close to the ground and hunch yourself into a ball. Keep your feet off the ground as much as possible. Poising on the balls of your feet works best. If there is a group of people try to stay about 15 feet from each other. It makes for a smaller target and if someone is struck by lightning the rest should be safe enough to give aid.
Remember that if your hair stands on end lightning is about to strike. Immediately protect yourself.
The most important thing to know is that every lightning strike is a potential killer. Keep yourself and those around you as safe as possible. And that includes your pets. They are in as much danger as us human animals.