Thunderstorm Safety Tips
Storm Safety Tips
When a thunderstorm warning is issued, Consumers Energy wants you to be prepared. So we've assembled the following tips for you...just in case.
What To Do
At Home During A Thunderstorm Warning
If You're Outside And A Severe Thunderstorm Is Approaching
While Driving In A Thunderstorm Or Heavy Downpour
After The Storm Passes
If Someone Is Struck By Lightning
What To Do At Home During A Thunderstorm Warning
- Draw blinds and shades over your windows. That will prevent glass from shattering into your home if the window should break due to blown objects or large hail.
- Unplug and avoid using electrical appliances. Avoid using the telephone. If lightning strikes, telephone lines and other wires can conduct electricity. Leaving lights on, however, does not increase the chance of your home being struck by lightning.
- Avoid taking a bath or shower. In fact, avoid running water for any reason. Metal pipes and plumbing will conduct electricity in the event of a lightning strike.
- Turn off and unplug your air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor and cause costly damage.
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What To Do If You're Outside And A Severe Thunderstorm Is Approaching
- If you're boating or swimming, get to land, get off the beach and find shelter immediately. Stay away from rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and nearby lightning strikes often travel through it.
- Whenever possible, take shelter in substantial, permanent, enclosed structures, such as reinforced buildings. Avoid unprotected gazebos, rain or picnic shelters, baseball dugouts and bleachers; these structures are often isolated and located in otherwise open areas, making them a target for lightning. Also, they're generally poorly anchored and can easily be uprooted and blown over by strong thunderstorm winds. Lastly, these structures offer little protection from large hail.
- If there are no reinforced buildings in sight, take shelter in a car, truck or other hard-topped vehicle. Keep the windows closed. Although rubber tires provide no protection from lightning, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle does increase protection if you are not touching metal. If lightning does strike your car, you may be injured but you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- If you are in the woods, find an area protected by a low clump of trees. Never stand under a large tree in the open. Be aware of possible flooding in low-lying areas.
- As a last resort, if no shelter is available, go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles or metal objects. Pick a place that is not subject to flooding. Have as little contact with the ground as possible; make yourself the smallest target possible. Squat low to the ground, and cover your head. Do not lie flat, as this makes you a larger target.
- Avoid tall structures, such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines and power lines. Lightning strikes the tallest object in an area.
- Stay away from lightning rods, golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles and camping equipment. Lightning is attracted to metal poles and rods.
- If you are isolated in a level field and feel your hair stand on end (an indication lightning is about to strike), immediately make yourself the smallest target possible. Drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Or crouch on the balls of your feet. Do not lie flat on the ground.
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What To Do While Driving In A Thunderstorm Or Heavy Downpour
- Pull safely to the shoulder and stop. Make sure you're away from trees or other tall objects that could fall on your vehicle. Stay in the car and turn on your emergency flashers; this will alert other drivers that you have stopped. Keep windows closed. Remember: Vehicles provide better protection from lightning than being out in the open.
- Avoid contact with metal or conducting surfaces outside or inside the vehicle. Lightning that strikes nearby can travel through wet ground to your car. Rubber tires provide no protection from lightning, so avoid contact with potential conductors to avoid being shocked.
- Avoid flooded roadways. Highway dips, bridges and low areas are likely places for flooding to occur. A large percentage of flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water. The depth of water is not always obvious. It's also possible that the roadbed under the water is washed out, causing you to be stranded or trapped. Rapidly rising water may stall an engine, increasing your chances of being swept away. (Just two feet of water will carry away most vehicles.)
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What To Do After The Storm Passes
- Continue listening to local radio or television stations or an NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, and roads may be blocked.
- Help neighbors who may need special assistance: infants, the elderly, people with disabilities.
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas. You may be putting yourself at further risk from the lingering effects of severe weather.
- Watch out for fallen power lines and report them immediately to 1-800-477-5050. Reporting potential hazards will prevent further hazard and injury.
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What To Do If Someone Is Struck By Lightning
- Call for help. Medical attention is needed as quickly as possible. Get someone to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Service (EMS).
- Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped, a person trained in CPR should begin giving it. If the injured person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.
- Check for burns. The injured person has been shocked and may be burned in two places: where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Being struck by lightning can also cause nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing or eyesight.
Important: People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be helped without fear of being shocked.
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