15 Lightning Strike Safety Rules

A list of fifteen tips and rules to help with lightning strike safety.

15 LIGHTNING SAFETY RULES

These safety rules will help you save your life when lightning threatens.

1. Stay indoors, and don't venture outside, unless absolutely necessary.

2. Stay away from open doors and windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and plug-in electrical appliances.

3. Don't use plug-in electrical equipment like hair driers, electric toothbrushes, or electric razors during the storm.

4. Don't use the telephone during the storm. Lightning may strike telephone lines outside.

5. Don't take laundry off the clothesline.

6. Don't work on fences, telephone or power lines, pipelines, or structural steel fabrication.

7. Don't use metal objects like fishing rods and golf clubs. Golfers wearing cleated shoes are particularly good lightning rods.

8. Don't handle flammable materials in open containers.

9. Stop tractor work, especially when the tractor is pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are often struck by lightning.

10. Get out of the water and off small boats.

11. Stay in your automobile if you are traveling. Automobiles offer excellent lightning protection.

12. Seek shelter in buildings. If no buildings are available, your best protection is a cave, ditch, canyon, or under head-high clumps of trees in open forest glades.

13. When there is no shelter, avoid the highest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, your best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high.

14. Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clotheslines, exposed sheds, and any electrically conductive elevated objects.

15. When you feel the electrical charge-if your hair stands on end or your skin tingles-lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to the ground immediately.

Note: Roy C. Sullivan, a recently retired Shenandoah Park ranger, has been struck by lightning a record seven times. The first bolt struck in 1942 in a lookout tower. He enjoyed a 27-year reprieve until 1969, when he was hit while driving a truck (theoretically a remote possibility). Not always was he in the middle of a storm-once, when he thought he was safely out of reach, he got out of his car only to be struck again. This incident cost him an eyebrow; other jolts ripped off a tonenail, knocked him unconscious, set his hair on fire, and hurled him out of his car. Among the charred relics of his adventures are several Ranger hats, which he donated to the Guinness World Record Exhibits in New York City and Las Vegas. His new mobile home is surrounded by 12 lightning rods, but Sullivan is not hopeful. "Lightning has a way of finding me," he said. "I have a feeling I'm going to be struck again someday."

How does he account for this strange attraction? "But I can figure is that I have some chemical, some mineral, in my body that draws lightning. I just wish I knew.

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