Information on Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms are intense local storms averaging 20
miles across and reaching as high as 10 miles. They are always accompanied
by lightning. Thunderstorms occur in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
Be prepared by having family members do the activities on the
checklist below. Then get together to discuss and finalize your Family
a safe place in your home where family members can gather during a
thunderstorm. This place should have no windows, skylights,
or glass doors.
- Discuss how you would know if a tornado were part of a
thunderstorm. Does your community have a warning system? What other ways
would you be notified of a tornado watch or warning?
- Show children how to practice squatting low to the ground to
be the smallest target possible for lightning in case they get caught outside
in a thunderstorm. Show them how to place their hands on their knees with their
head between their knees.
- Assemble an Emergency
Supplies Kit in a clearly labeled, easy-to-grab container.
- Take an American Red Cross first aid course to learn how to
treat burns and how to give rescue breathing and administer CPR.
and Get Ready for a Thunderstorm
Here's what you can do to prepare yourself and your family for a
- Before lightning strikes ...
- Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes
of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the
storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
- Listen to a weather radio, commercial radio, or television
for the latest weather forecasts.
- When a storm approaches ...
- Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows
closed and avoid convertibles.
- Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity.
Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances.
- Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any
- Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning
can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
- Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due
to objects blown by the wind, the blinds and shades will help prevent
glass from shattering into your home.
- If caught outside ...
- If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter
- If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find
- Protecting yourself outside ...
- Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or
- Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
- Be a very small target ...
- Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with
your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.
- Do not lie flat on the ground as this will make you a
- After the storm passes ...
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
- If someone is struck by lightning ...
- People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be
- Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency
Medical Services number.
- The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be
burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body.
Check for burns in both places.
- Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing
if you know how. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should
- Learn First Aid and CPR ...
- Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR course. Call your local
Red Cross chapter for class schedules and fees.
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