Thunder roars loudly and can be very frightening – but by itself can’t really hurt anyone. Its two most fearsome companions however, can be very dangerous indeed:
- Lightning killed an average of 31 people a year between 2006 and 2015, and injured another 279.1Your estimated odds of being struck in an 80-year lifespan are 1 in 13,000.1 And yes, those are higher odds than winning a fortune in the lottery.
- Hail can happen during any strong storm, hurling chunks of ice to the earth at speeds up to 120 mph – and they range in size from a pea to a grapefruit! That’s a hefty projectile.
So to protect yourself, your family and home from these real dangers takes a little bit of knowledge and preparation. Here are some hail and lighting safety tips:
Know the “30/30” rule: When you see a lightning flash, start counting. If you don’t make it to 30 before hearing the thunder, head indoors. Then stay indoors until 30 minutes after hearing the last boom of thunder.
If you’re already indoors
- Avoid using corded phones and electronics such as computers or power tools. Electrical wires can conduct lightning.
- Don’t use your cell phone during a thunderstorm.
- Don’t wash your hands, shower, wash dishes or do laundry. Metal pipes in the plumbing can also conduct lightning.
- High winds and hail can shatter glass, so stay away from windows, skylights and doors.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed to prevent hail-shattered glass from blowing in or flying around.
If you’re outside when a storm hits
- Take shelter when you see dark clouds or lightning, hear thunder or feel hail.
- Head for an enclosed building, rather than a carport or open garage.
- No enclosed structure? Get inside a hardtop, all-metal car, truck or SUV. Avoid leaning against vehicles.
- Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
- If no shelter from lightning is available, squat down and put your hands on your knees with your head in between to make yourself a smaller target.
- If you’re in the water, head for shore immediately and avoid metal objects. Water and metal can both carry an electrical current.
- If you’re in a group of people, spread out.
- Take care of your pets by bringing them inside. Doghouses are not lightning- or hail-proof.
Protecting your stuff
To help lessen some of the potential damage from a lightning strike:
- Remove dead or overhanging tree branches that could fall on your house if the tree is struck by lightning.
- Put your entire house on a surge-protection system.
- Unplug appliances and electronic equipment when not in use.
A major concern with hail is damage to your home’s roof. No roofing material is hail-proof, so look for hail-resistant shingles that carry a Class 4 UL rating. Learn what type of roofing material is appropriate for homes in your area. Also, be aware that most roofing jobs are not for DIYers. It can be dangerous work. So unless you’re experienced, hire a professional roofing contractor. And speaking of roof repairs, we also cover that.
Hail can also cause extensive damage to your vehicle. To help lessen that risk:
- If a severe thunderstorm is predicted, park your car where it will be protected, like in a garage.
- Driving when the storm begins? Head for an overpass, garage or carport – anything with a strong roof. If none are available, pull to the side of road, cover your face with clothing to protect yourself from any broken glass, and wait. Most hailstorms only last about 5 minutes.
Find out more on how to prepare for extreme weather conditions at our Catastrophe resource center. Or contact an agent to protect your home with property insurance from Nationwide.
- Avoid using any plumbing during lightning storms. If lightning strikes your home or building, or other nearby locations, it can impart an electrical charge to the metal pipes in your plumbing, which lead to electrocution if you are using the plumbing connected to those pipes.
- Don’t take showers or baths, and do not use any sinks or faucets during lightning storms.
- Have polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes installed in your home for your indoor plumbing. Pipes made from this material can prevent you from becoming electrocuted in lightning storms if you insist on using plumbing during these times.
Avoid using your corded landline telephone during lightning storms. If lightning strikes the main phone line in your neighborhood or outside your home, the electricity from the strike will travel through every phone connected to the line, and electrocute anyone using the telephone.
- Buy or install cordless telephones, or use your cell phone if you need to make a phone call during a lightning storm.
Don’t use appliances that are plugged into the wall during lightning storms.Appliances that are plugged into the wall and turned on can be dangerous for you to use if lightening strikes your home or the power line it is connected to.
- Turn off televisions, computers, air conditioners, and other appliances that are plugged in and running during lightning storms.
- Use wireless or battery-operated appliances during lightning storms to prevent yourself from becoming electrocuted. Examples of wireless appliances you can use are cordless vacuum cleaners, curling irons, and razors.
Avoid standing on surfaces in which moisture or water is present during lightning storms. Electrical currents will travel through the ground where water is present, and can electrocute anyone in contact with these surfaces. Examples of surfaces to avoid are basement floors, patios, garage flooring, and other flooring w
Do not lean on or sit against walls during lightning storms. Sometimes lightning can reach the electrical wiring in walls, which can cause you to become shocked or electrocuted if you are pressed against a wall.
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How to Protect Yourself From Lightning When Indoors,Urgent instructions to save from lightning