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These images show: a thunderstorm, a radar image of a thunderstorm, activities where people need to take caution because they are in potential danger due to a thunderstorm, and a weather radio.
Images Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), National Weather Service Forecast Office of Louisville, KY, Alicia Pearce, Mitchell Shmiga

Thunderstorm Safety

Thunderstorms can be really dangerous! Flash floods, lightning bolts, hail, tornadoes...all of these things can hurt you if you're not careful. So here's some safety tips.

GO INSIDE! If you hear distant thunder or see a flash of light, get indoors immediately. Seek shelter from sturdy buildings, not lean-tos or outhouses. You can stay in a car if that is your only option, but do not touch any of the metal on the car. If you cannot find shelter, stay away from tall, isolated objects such as trees, poles, or posts. Make sure that you are not the tallest object by crouching down. Crouch down, bend forward, and grab your ankles. Keep your head down. Do not lie flat on the ground and try to keep out of puddles or other standing water.

If you can get into a house or school, go down to either the basement or a room that is in the center of the building. Stay away from windows. That way, if a tornado touches down, you'll be safe.

Do not use a phone or a computer during a thunderstorm. Do not take a shower or wash dishes. Lightning can strike the plumbing or electrical wires that connect to your house and give you an electrical shock if you use these items.

After the storm passes, wait about half an hour before leaving the house. Lightning can still be prevalent in the sky, and more storms may come. If there are downed power lines anywhere around you, DO NOT touch them. Call your electrical company and have them take care of it.

Last modified July 30, 2008 by Vanessa Pearce.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF