Summer can bring with it some terrific storms, often without warning, putting all those happy summertime people frolicking outdoors at risk. If you’re stuck outside in a lightning storm, keep these tips in mind to keep yourself safe.
If you’re outside, the safest thing to do is head inside. Your car is a safe place to be, as is any enclosed structure. Don’t seek shelter under open-sided structures, like a picnic table. These won’t keep you safe. Even if the worst of the storm passes, you still could be in danger. Lightning can strike 6 to 10 miles from the base of the storm cloud. To figure out how far away the storm is, use the flash/bang method. Count how many seconds pass between the lightning flash and the thunder, then divide that number by 5 to figure out how many miles away the storm is.
If there are no shelter options, stay away from tall objects, like lone trees or even people. If you’re in the golf course, get away from your clubs and cart. If you’re swimming, get out of the water. If you’re on a trail, seek shelter under a cluster of short trees, preferably one that is sheltered by a group of taller trees.
Stay away from hills. If you can’t get inside, the safest place to be is in a valley. Get into a baseball catcher’s position with your ears covered and your head between your knees. It’s important to minimize your contact with the ground, so never lie down flat.
Lightning strikes are rare, though not as rare as getting attacked by a shark, getting in a plane crash, or winning the lottery (unfortunately). So know how to protect yourself and get out there and enjoy these last weeks of summer!