Thunderstorms are very common. NOAA estimates that 1,800 thunderstorms occur at any moment around the world. Severe thunderstorms may bring heavy rain, flooding, hail, strong winds, and tornadoes that may damage homes, businesses, and government facilities. Additionally, community infrastructure may be damaged, such as utility poles, causing widespread power outages.
How do I prepare?
To stay safer during a thunderstorm follow these Red Cross tips:
Make a Home Disaster Plan: Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home. Remove animals from vulnerable dog houses and similar small structures.
Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries.
Heed Storm Warnings: A severe storm WATCH means severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. A severe storm WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
Prepare for High Winds: Remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees when the weather is clear. If storms are forecasted and you have time, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind.
Before Lightning Strikes
- Keep an eye on the sky.
- Look for darkening skies, flashes of light or increasing winds.
- Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.
- Go to safe shelter immediately.
- The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
When Storm Approaches
- Find shelter in a building or car.
- Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
- Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity.
- Unplug appliances.
- Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
- Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
If Caught Outside
- Go to low-lying, open place away from trees, poles or metal objects.
- Make sure the place you pick is not flooding.
- Make yourself the smallest target possible.
- Squat low to the ground.
- Place your hands on your knees with your head between them.
- If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
- If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
If Someone Is Struck By Lightning
- People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
- Call for help.
- Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
- Give first aid.
- If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR.
Consider creating a or revising your current workplace's Business Continuity Program.
- Preparing evacuation plans and early warning systems to be implemented in the event of a storm
- Constructing wind-resistant or easily rebuilt houses
- Help community members secure and fasten down those elements that could blow away and cause damage or injury elsewhere, such as metal sheeting, fences, and signs
- Identifying potential shelter locations in strong, wind-resistant buildings
- Helping community members take protective measures for boats, building contents or other possessions at risk
- Partnering to help protect food storage facilities from storms
Local and National Government
What do I need to know?
Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from severe thunderstorms can cause flash flooding and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages.
The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. It is important to talk about Thunderstorms since they produce: [Source: "Thunderstorms, Tonrados & Lightning" NOAA]
- Cause an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries.
- Produce wind speeds in excess of 250 mph.
- Causes an average of 80 fatalities and 300 injuries each year.
- Occurs with all thunderstorms.
- Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.
- Can exceed 100 mph.
- Can cause damage equal to a tornado.
- Can be extremely dangerous to aviation.
- Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard, producing more than 140 fatalities a year.
- Causes more than $1 billion in crop and property damage each year.