National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Thursday

...Safe Shelters and Indoor Lightning Safety...

This week is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Lightning Kills--play it safe!

A house or other substantial structure offers the best protection from lightning. For shelters to provide adequate protection, they must be well grounded. A structure can be grounded on the outside, within the walls, or a combination of both. Many small, open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, roadside picnic areas, school yards, and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning. Shelters that do not contain plumbing or wiring throughout or some other mechanism for grounding are not safe. Small, wood, vinyl, or metal sheds provide no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.

Once lightning enters a building, it can travel through electrical lines, phone lines, plumbing, and radio and TV reception systems. Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. In addition, lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.

To protect yourself and your family, stay away from windows and outside doors as these can provide a path for a direct strike to enter a building. Do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it is likely to contain a wire mesh that can conduct electricity. Avoid contact with plumbing. This includes washing your hands, taking a shower or bath, washing dishes, or doing laundry. In general, a basement is a safe place to go during a thunderstorm. However, while in the basement, avoid contact with concrete walls as they may contain metal reinforcing bars.

Lightning also causes significant damage to personal property each year. In addition to a direct strike, lightning generates electrical surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. To the extent possible, unplug any appliances or electrical equipment well before the thunderstorm threatens. Do not forget to disconnect televisions and radios from outdoor antennas. If you plan to be away from your home when thunderstorms are possible, be sure to unplug unneeded equipment before you leave.

If you want more information about lightning safety, go to is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.