Indoor Lightning Safety

Statistics tell us that we are much less likely to become a lightning victim if we remain inside a substantial structure such as a home or office building when thunderstorms are nearby. Most people struck by lightning are in open areas such as ball fields, parks...golf courses or near water, while others are struck when they are near some type of machinery. However, a small percentage of people are killed or injured by lightning even though they are indoors, so it is important to discuss indoor lightning safety.

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning.  In contrast, many small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not from lightning. Small wood, vinyl or metal sheds should be avoided during thunderstorms. 
 
Lightning typically enters homes and buildings via either a direct strike through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, through the ground, or through an open door or window.  Once in a structure, lightning can travel through the electrical, phone and plumbing systems and through metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring. 
 
Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. This applies mainly to corded phones or those in contact with the base unit of a cordless phone. People have also been injured near radios and televisions, as well as other electronic devices.  Open windows and doors provide a path for a direct strike to enter a home, so stay away from these locations during thunderstorms and make sure that windows and doors are closed. 
 
When lightning is nearby, washers and dryers should be avoided because they connect with plumbing and electrical systems in your home. It is also best to avoid using bathtubs and shower stalls during a thunderstorm.
 
Basements are generally a safe place during thunderstorms. But avoid direct contact with concrete walls because they often contain metal reinforcing bars. 
 
Lightning can cause significant damage to personal property each year.  Unplug appliances or electronic equipment well before a thunderstorm threatens. Disconnect televisions or radios from outdoor antennas. If you plan to be away from your home when thunderstorms are possible, unplug unneeded equipment before you leave.
 
Here is a summary of lightning safety tips for inside the home:
1. Avoid corded phones, electrical equipment and plumbing. 
2. Avoid contact with water such as taking a shower or doing laundry.
3. Stay away from windows, doors and porches. 
4. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
 
Additional information about lightning and lightning safety can be
Found at the following web sites (use lower case):
 
www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov
www.lightningsafety.com
www.weather.gov/pueblo/ltg.php

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