Thunderstorms and Lightning

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Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

If you’re under a thunderstorm warning, find safe shelter right away!
  • When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Move from outdoors into a building or car.
  • Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Do not use landline phones.

Staying Safe When a Thunderstorm Threatens

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. Sign up for email updates and follow the latest guidelines about coronavirus from the CDC and your local authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
  • Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

Survive DURING

  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
  • If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines. Don’t wash your hands with soap and water. Instead, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, which can help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices, and secure outside furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Don’t touch anything metal.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Floodwaters may contain debris, chemicals, or waste that are harmful to your health.


  • Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it’s safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
  • If you’re sick or need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know your medical condition and if you have, or think you might have, been exposed to COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask before help arrives.
  • Continue taking steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases by washing your hands often and cleaning commonly touched surfaces with disinfecting products.
  • Engage virtually with your community through video and phone calls. Know that it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed. Take care of your body and talk to someone if you are feeling upset.