As Spring rolls around, you can’t help but take advantage of the sunnier, warmer days and get some sorely needed fresh air. But with the warmer weather comes the threat of thunderstorms and lightning.
If you’re caught in a storm when you’re outside, it might be difficult to immediately find shelter. Perhaps you’re in the middle of a golf game, taking a walk in the park, or hunting in the woods. Here are some tips on what you should do if you’re stuck outdoors when a thunderstorm hits.
It might not always be easy to find shelter right away, but here are some tips on what you can do to stay safe if you’re caught outside in a lightning storm.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that you seek shelter as quickly as possible. One of the NOAA’s slogans is “When thunder roars, go indoors!”
In the even that shelter is not an immediate possibility, try to stay as low as you can. You don’t want to be the tallest thing in an open field when lightning strikes. Find a ditch or a depression to get below ground level.
If you are on a hike, for example, head downward. And stay away from isolated trees.
Cars will suffice as shelter
Being inside of an enclosed car is not as ideal as the inside of a building, but it’s safer than being out in the open. It is actually a myth that the rubber from car tires keeps you safe from a lightning strike. However, a car’s metal shell disperses the lightning when struck, and will likely redirect the bolt outward.
Stay away from water
Another myth is that water attracts lightning. While that’s not true, water is a good conductor of electricity, which means that it can travel far. If you’re swimming in a pool, ocean or lake and you hear thunder, get out immediately.
Avoid tents and pavilions
People at parks or campgrounds tend to wait out thunderstorms underneath a tent or pavilion. But it’s actually risky to do this, as those structures tend to have metal frames that conduct electricity.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
A storm doesn’t necessarily have to be nearby for lightning to be a threat. If you hear thunder, move indoors quickly, even if it sounds far away. It is common for lightning to strike outside the immediate vicinity of a thunderstorm.