General safety tips
Lightning takes the easiest path between the earth and the other places and tends to strike the tallest objects and spikes; therefore stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles.
Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or fences or water.
The safest places in a thunderstorm are enclosed buildings or cars because they conduct the electricity to the outer surface onto the ground avoiding injuries to the occupants.
If you hear thunder look for shelter immediately: following proven safety guidelines can greatly reduce the risk of injury from lightning strikes.
- Close doors and windows to avoid drafts which can attract lightning.
- Put out the fire of your chimney since it generates drafts. Keep away from the fireplace because it can be an entry for lightning flash.
- Unplug all electric devices, like televisions, computers, etc. because they can be damaged by an electrical surge.
- Keep away from electrical equipment and do not use corded phones.
- Avoid taking a shower or any contact with water.
- Check periodically lightning rods and make sure they are connected to the ground.
- Keep at hand flashlights with extra batteries, candles or other battery powered light devices in case of blackout.
Autor: Josep Pareta, col·laborador del SMC
Outdoor safety tips
If you are outdoor and especially if your are in an open field:
- Avoid being near from communication towers, flagpoles, light poles, bleachers (metal or wood), metal fences and other metallic objects and spikes.
- Keep away from high places, where you can be the tallest object and thus attract lightning. Do not remain in the lower part of the valley and be alert for floods.
- Do not take shelter under trees, especially if they are isolated. Being in a forest is not the safest place but it is certainly wiser than remaining in an open field.
- In case you do not find shelter, stay low by crouching with your head in between your knees and covering your ears with your hands. Press your heels together.
- Keep away from rivers, lakes or watery areas.
- Be careful with tree branches, signs or walls that can fall on you.
- If caught in your car close the doors and windows and do not come into contact with the metallic parts.
If moreover, it starts to rain, beware of floods.
If practicing outdoor sports
Plan your activity properly by checking the weather forecast to avoid the risks of thunder and lightning. If you are caught outside in a lightning storm:
- If you are in the mountains, a car with windows and doors closed can be a good shelter.
- Drop all metallic items such as internal or external frame backpacks, hiking sticks or pole (including aluminium and carbon fibre), etc. and pointed objects which can attract lightning. Camping tends are not a safe shelter.
- If caught in a lightning when swimming in a pool, river or beach get immediately out of the water and dry yourself thoroughly.
- If fishing, drop your fishing rod.
- If playing golf, get away from the sticks.
- Do not ride bikes or motorbikes.
- If sailing, keep inside the cabin.
Wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before heading back outside.
In case of emergency call 112
Autor: Manel Dot, col·laborador del SMC