When disaster strikes: Staying safe during a thunderstorm

When disaster strikes: Staying safe during a thunderstorm

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - While more people are at the beach, camping, grilling and enjoying the outdoors in the summer, the season is also the peak month for lightning.

If you hear rumbles of thunder, experts say you should head indoors immediately. In most conditions, you can hear thunder up to ten miles away, but lightning can still strike up to 25 miles away.

According to the National Weather Service, about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States each year. In the past 30 years, the U.S has averaged 51 lightning fatalities a year.

We have compiled a list below of what you can do to reduce the chance of getting struck by lighting.

If you are outdoors:

  • If you hear thunder, get inside as quickly as possible. Do not wait for the rain to start to take shelter. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder, and do not wait just until the rain stops.
  • Do NOT seek shelter in a building with exposed sides. This includes beach shacks, metal sheds, picnic pavilions, carports and baseball dugouts. Seeking protection under a tree is one of the leading causes of lightning related fatalities.
  • Go to a location that is enclosed with plumbing and electrical wiring. The pipes and wires will conduct the electricity into the ground. If there are no buildings around, go to an enclosed metal vehicle.
  • Know your WECT First Alert Weather Forecast. You can download the WECT Weather App for both Apple and Android devices.

If you are indoors:

  • Stay away from windows and doors. They could contain metal components.
  • Stay off balconies, porches and out of open garages or carports.
  • Do NOT touch electrical equipment and cords. Lightning can hit anything that uses electricity and can cause electrical surges (even at far distances from the strike). ONLY unplug appliances or electronics before the storm.
  • Avoid metal plumbing and the water inside. Both are conductors of electricity so avoid washing dishes, taking a shower or bath or doing laundry.

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