Safety Rules


Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the rain of a thunderstorm. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately. (NLSI)

On their website, The National Lightning Safety Institute offers safety guidelines that will help you avoid the vast majority of lightning casualties. Remember, no place outside is safe during thunderstorms.

  • Watch the weather forecast and plan outside activities around the weather to avoid lightning hazards.
  • If you are going to be outside anyway, use the 30-30 Rule to know when to seek proper shelter. When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, seek proper shelter. Also, keep watch on the skies for thunderstorm clues: increasing and darkening clouds, increasing rain and/or wind.
  • Do not hesitate. Seek shelter immediately. The best safe shelter is a large, fully enclosed substantially constructed building such a typical house, school, library, or public building. Substantially constructed means it has wiring and plumbing in the walls.

    Once inside, stay off the telephone, stay away from electrical appliances, lightning, and electrical sockets. Stay away from plumbing. Do not watch lightning from windows and doorways. Inner rooms are a safer place to wait out a storm.

    If you cannot get to a substantial building, a good second choice is a vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides. Close the windows, lean away from the door, put your hands in your lap, and do not touch the steering wheel, ignition, shifter, or radio. Remember, convertibles, cars with fiberglass or plastic shells, and open framed vehicles do not count as lightning shelters.

    Myth: Cars are safe because the rubber tires insulate them from the ground.

    Truth: Cars are safe because of their metal shell.
  • If you cannot get to proper shelter, then avoid the most dangerous locations.
    • Avoid higher elevations.
    • Avoid wide-open areas such as sports fields and beaches.
    • Avoid water activities such as boating, swimming, and fishing.
    • Avoid golfing.
    • Avoid open vehicles such as farm tractors, open construction vehicles, riding
    • Lawnmowers, and golf carts with or without roofs.
    • Avoid unprotected open buildings such as picnic pavilions, rain shelters, and bus stops.
    • Avoid metal fences and metal bleachers.
    • Do not go under trees.
  • The lightning crouch is a desperate last resort position to be used when lightning is imminent and gives very few seconds of warning. Put your feet together, squat down, tuck your head, and cover your ears. When the imminent danger has passed, continue heading to the safest spot. You are much safer not getting into such a high-risk situation.

    If you are in a large group, spread out. If one person is struck, the others may not be and can give first aid.
  • Emergency Care.
    • Call 911
    • All deaths from lightning are from cardiac arrest and stopped breathing at the time of the strike. CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation are the recommended first aid.
    • If you are still in an active thunderstorm and at continuing risk to yourself, consider moving the victim and yourself to a safer location. (National Lightning Safety Institute)