A safe shelter is a building with electricity and/or plumbing or a metal-topped vehicle with windows closed. Picnic shelters, dugouts, small buildings without plumbing or electricity are not safe.
Key Indoor or in Vehicle Safety Tips
- Stay off corded phones. You can use cellular or cordless phones. Do not use a cell phone connected to a car or home charger
- Don't touch electrical equipment or cords or any electronics that are charging.
- Avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower or bath, or wash dishes.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors or lean againt concrete walls.
- In a vehicle, avoid touching metal objects. If possible pull over and wait out the storm. Lightning can blind you temporarily and heavy rain and flooded roads are life threatening.
Bring in Your Pets
Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.
Protect Your Personal Property
Lightning generates electric surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will not protect equipment from a lightning strike. The American Meteorological Society has tips for protecting your electronics from lightning. Do not unplug equipment during a thunderstorm as there is a risk you could be struck.
How Lightning Enters a Structure
There are three main ways lightning enters structures: a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground. Once in a structure, lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.