Lightning Risk Reduction Guidelines Outdoors: For Individuals

Plan Ahead! Make sure you get the weather forecast before going out. Your best source of up to date weather information is a NOAA weather radio. These devices can be purchased at most electronics stores. Portable NOAA weather radios are handy for outdoor activities. This way you will always be able to get the latest forecast. Other sources of weather information include the internet, TV and local radio stations. Some cell phones also now offer access to weather information.

If you do go ahead with your planned outdoor activity and lightning storms are expected, have a lightning safety plan of action in case thunderstorms threaten. Remember, the key to your safety plan is: How far away am I from a safe enclosed building or a safe vehicle? How long will it take me to get to one of these safe locations if lightning threatens?

It is strongly recommended that you should seek safe shelter when you first hear thunder, observe lightning or see dark threatening clouds developing overhead.

Do not resume outdoor activities until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.

Remember, your lightning safety plan of action is knowing: 1) how far away you are from a safe location, and, 2) How long will it take you to get to the safe location?

Example #1

You plan to go to the beach (or lake) later this morning. You turn on the TV and listen to the weather forecast and it calls for a nice morning followed by a 30% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. You pack up your beach belongings into the car (which is not a convertible) and head towards the beach. Once arriving at the beach you park your car, and head to the beach (or lake) which is 5 minutes walking distance from the parking lot. The only nearby buildings are beach picnic shacks. By early afternoon you observe the skies darkening and begin to hear thunder. What would be your lightning safety plan of action?

In this case, you know the best safe location is your car. It takes 5 minutes to get to your car. Once you hear thunder, you get up and get into your car and wait the storm out. It is suggested you wait 30 minutes before the last rumble of thunder. You would NOT seek shelter under the beach picnic shacks because these are not a safe place to be during lightning storms.

Example #2

You plan to go to the park later this morning. You turn on the TV and listen to the weather forecast and it calls for a nice morning followed by a 30% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. You live in the city and take public transportation to the park. Once arriving at the park and begin to enjoy the rest of the day. You know that thunderstorms are possible during the afternoon so you look around and observe there are a few shopping centers nearby, along with plenty of picnic shelters in the park. Sure enough, by early afternoon you observe the skies darkening and begin to hear rumbles of thunder. What would be your lightning safety plan of action?

In this case, you know the best safe location is the shopping center (an enclosed building). Once you hear thunder, you head over to the shopping center and wait the storm out. It is suggested you wait 30 minutes before the last rumble of thunder. You would NOT seek shelter under the picnic shelters because these are not a safe place to be during lightning storms.

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