Every year in the U.S. alone an average of thirty-one people are killed by lightning, with many more left seriously injured. While most of these strikes are on victims outside during the time of the storm, a surprisingly high number of individuals inside are still affected each year. Below we’ve listed our top tips for keeping you and your family safe during a lightning storm. Pay particular attention to the advice listed for protecting yourself inside since this is unknown to many.
Protecting Yourself Outside
The best protection will always be to retreat to a safe vehicle or building and to stay there for the duration of the storm. If you are going to be outside a lot in a region known for thunderstorms it is best to have a plan for what you will do if a storm develops.
If safe shelter isn’t available, you can reduce your risk significantly by being sensible and using these tips:
- Avoid open areas, and in particular the tops of hills.
- Stick to lower ground where possible such as a valley.
- Avoid isolated trees and other objects that might attract lightning.
- In forests you are safest near shorter trees. Do not shelter under the tallest trees.
- Stay away from electrical conductors such as metal objects and water.
- Remember that a tent does not protect you from lightning.
Protecting Yourself Inside
If you are inside your home when lightning starts you are significantly more protected than someone outside, however you are still at risk. If the building you are in is struck, the lightning can move through your phone and electrical lines, and even through your plumbing.
Take the following precautions:
- Avoid using your plumbing during a lightning storm since metal pipes can carry the electrical charge. That means no shower, washing your hands, doing the dishes etc.
- Avoid surfaces that are wet or damp, such as garage flooring or basements. If you have a leak, make sure you get a plumber to fix it.
- Avoid metal surfaces, such as door knobs, as well as metal windows and door frames.
- Avoid using a corded telephone. Use a mobile or cordless phone instead if needed.
- Turn off appliances that are plugged into the wall such as televisions and computers) and rely on appliances that use batteries instead.
- Avoid using personal appliances like hair dryers, electric shavers, and electric toothbrushes.
- Avoid wired video game handsets.
- Do not do laundry as it involves proximity to plumbing and wiring. Believe it or not the dryer has yet another added risk—lightning could enter through the dryer’s outside vent.
Although the risk of getting struck by lightning in any given year is pretty small – about 1 in a million, the risk of getting struck over an average person’s lifetime is 1 in 10,000. Adhering to the above safety tips will allow you to keep yourself and those you love as safe as possible during a storm.
If you think you have a plumbing leak or have related questions, please contact the expert plumbers at Edwin Stipe, Inc., in Easton, PA at 610-258-0201 and we’ll be glad to assist you.