Lightning Safety

Thunderstorms can occur anytime during the year, but are most common in the spring and summer. A typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. All thunderstorms produce lightning. Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Because light travels so much faster than sound, lightning flashes can be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. Remember: if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. North Carolina ranks third in the nation in number of lightning-related deaths, and fourth in lightning related injuries.

If you are outdoors when a thunderstorm approaches, seek shelter immediately!


  • Move to a sturdy building or car.
  • Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
  • Get out of boats and away from water.
  • Telephones lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances if possible and avoid using the telephone (unless it is an emergency) or any electrical appliances.
  • Do not take a bath or shower.


If you are caught outdoors and unable to find shelter:

  • Find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles.
  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.

If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place you hands on your knees, put your head down and try to make yourself the smallest target possible while minimizing your contact with the ground.

People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY !


Severe thunderstorms can produce damaging winds as strong as a weak tornado and can be life threatening.

Be sure to listen to your local television and radio stations when the weather looks threatening for severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.

Home | Contact Us | Fire Safety | Heat Waves | Hurricanes | Kids Page | Special Needs | Terrorism | Thunderstorms | Tornadoes
Designed by Jerren Saunders
Last Updated: June 12, 2002