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Understanding Lightning:
Minimizing Your Risk

see text descriptionThe threat that someone will being struck by lightning depends on their behavior when thunderstorms are in the area. The graphs below provide some insight into why and when people are struck by lightning and what can do to lower their risk.

In the first graph, the threat of lightning increases as a thunderstorm approaches, reaches a peak when the storm is overhead, and then gradually diminishes as the storm moves away. At the same time, it’s people’s  behavior that determines the risk of a fatal lightning strike. While some people move inside at the first signs of a thunderstorm, many people wait far too long to get to a safe place. Some wait until the thunderstorm is overhead and it starts to rain. Others, due to poor planning, are caught outside and can’t get to a safe place. Although most people got inside, some put themselves at risk by touching items that could become electrified by a nearby lightning strike. Finally, many people go outside too soon after the storm has seemingly passed, often only waiting for the rain to become lighter or end. It is all of these unsafe behaviors that put people at risk when thunderstorm are in the area.

see text descriptionTo minimize your personal risk of being struck by lightning, when going outside, plan ahead so that you can get to a safe place quickly if a thunderstorm threatens. If the sky looks threatening or if you hear thunder, get inside a safe place immediately. Once inside, avoid contact with corded phones, electrical equipment, plumbing, and windows and doors. Finally, wait 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder before going back outside. If everyone followed those simple rules, the number of lightning casualties in this country could be greatly reduced.

Remember, it is your behavior when thunderstorms are in the area that determines your personal risk of being struck by lightning. When ThunderRroars, Go Indoors!

Learn about Cloud-To-Ground Lightning Flash



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