If you’re someone who enjoys spring storms, you’re not alone. Rain, thunder, and even lightning can create a truly beautiful spectacle of nature. That isn’t to say that spring storms don’t pose a danger to you and your family. It’s important to remember that while beautiful, lightning can also be harmful. However, when you follow a few safety tips, it’s easy to enjoy the storms–and also to stay safe as they pass through.
When thunder roars, go indoors. According to Environment Canada, every year in Canada lightning can cause as many as 10 deaths and 164 injuries. Direct strikes are responsible for only 5% of lightning-related deaths and injuries. There are two other types of hazardous phenomena caused by lightning: ground current and side flash account for 60 to 80% of lightning-related injuries and deaths. The truth is that many of these terrible happenings can be avoided when we accept and respect lightning for the powerful force that it is. If a thunderstorm is looming, it may be tempting to stay outside on your porch or patio to watch it roll through. However, this is extremely dangerous. The best thing for you and your family is to get inside the nearest shelter–your home, a car, or a company structure–until the storm passes.
Keep in mind that being indoors does not guarantee your safety when lightning is present. According to Environment Canada, some lightning victims were struck inside homes or buildings while using electrical equipment or corded phones. Other victims were in contact with plumbing (such as water pipes), metal doors or a window frame. These electrical conductors can easily be forgotten about, but it’s important that you stay away from them whenever a storm is passing through your area.
Think the storm has passed and the danger is gone? Think again. Before you go outside again after a storm, you should wait at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. This is because if you can hear thunder, lightning is still close enough to pose an immediate threat to you or your loved ones. Lightning has been known to strike as far as 16 kilometers from rainfall.
Spring storms are certainly a sight to be admired, but we need to remember to respect their power–and teach our children to do the same. This spring and summer, be sure to watch the weather forecast and properly prepare yourself and your family for any potential lightning danger.