Lightning & Thunderstorm

Lightning claims quite a few lives and injures many every year. Take these precautions during thunderstorms:

If caught outdoors:

  • If you hear thunder 10 seconds after a lightning flash, it is only about three kilometers away. The shorter the time, the closer the lightning, so find shelter urgently:
  • Seek shelter in a hardtop (metal-bodied) vehicle or solid building but avoid small open structures or fabric tents.
  • Never take shelter under a small group of (or single) trees.
  • If far from any shelter, crouch (low, feet together), preferably in a hollow. Remove metal objects from head/body. Do not lie down flat but avoid being the highest object.
  • If your hair stands on end or you hear buzzing from nearby rocks, fences etc. move immediately. At night, a blue glow may show if an object is about to be struck.
  • Do not fly kites during thunderstorms.
  • Do not handle fishing rods, umbrellas or metal rods etc.
  • Stay away from metal poles, fences, clotheslines etc.
  • Do not ride bicycles or travel on open vehicles.
  • If driving, slow down or park away from trees, power lines, stay inside metal-bodied (hard top) vehicles or in a pucca building but do not touch any metal sections.
  • If in water, leave the water immediately.
  • If on a boat, go ashore to a shelter as soon as possible.
  • Be sure the mast and stays of the boat are adequately secured.

If you are indoors:

  • Before the storm arrives, disconnect external aerial and power leads to radios and television sets.
  • Disconnect computer modems and power leads.
  • Draw all curtains and keep clear of windows, electrical appliances, pipes and other metal fixtures (e.g. do not use the bath, shower, hand basin or other electric equipments).
  • Avoid the use of fixed telephones. In emergencies, make brief calls (do not touch any metal, brick or concrete) and do not stand bare foot on concrete or tiled floors.

First Aid :

Apply immediate heart massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to lightning victims until medical help arrives. (You won’t receive a shock from the victim).

Facts & Myths:

  • When struck, people do not glow or fry to a crisp but the heart and breathing are often affected.
  • Only about 30% of people struck actually die and the incidence of long-term disability is low, particularly when appropriate first aid is applied promptly.
  • If your clothes are wet, you are less likely to be seriously injured if struck, as most of the charge will be conducted through the wet clothes rather than your body.
  • Lightning can, and often does, strike more than once in the same place.