How-To: Be Safe in a Thunderstorm

5 tips to steer clear of lightning this summer


A supercell forms in Texas.

Although lightning strikes aren't usually fatal (seven out of 10 victims survive), there's no arguing they can still do you serious harm. Just this week, several people were struck by lightning during a storm on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, and four were treated for their injuries.

Summer and fall are prime time for thunderstorms, so it's important to know what to do in these conditions. To help you out, we've put together a list of five lightning safety tips that apply whether you're grilling in the backyard or backpacking through the wilderness.

Check the Weather Report
Although it’s never 100 percent accurate, the weather forecast is a good indicator for when a storm is on the horizon. If there's a high chance of lightning, it may be best to stick to indoor activities.

Remember: Lightning Can Strike the Same Place Twice
Contrary to the old adage, lightning is actually more likely to strike the same spot again and again. Because lightning is a form of electricity, it follows the path of least resistance to discharge. 

The Car is the Safest Spot 
If you're out in a park away from buildings when bad weather rolls in, head for your vehicle. The metal frame (not the rubber tires), will help keep you safe.

Don't Take Cover Under Trees
Trees, like any tall structure, attract lightning. In addition, since the sap in the wood is a poor conductor of electricity, the strike is likely to cause damage to the tree that could cause it to explode, lose branches or even spark a fire.

Avoid Water
Swimming during a storm is highly dangerous because water is a good conductor of electricity. If you see lightning or hear a thunderstorm approaching, get out of the water. 


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