The safest place to be when it’s storming outside is inside your home, but do you know what to do in a thunderstorm in a house?
In this article, you’ll learn the necessary do’s and don’ts when you’re indoors during a thunderstorm.
Even though your home, office, shopping mall, or other shelter is usually a safe place to be during a thunderstorm, you can still be hurt if you are not careful.
During a thunderstorm in a house, unplug non-essential appliances like TVs and computers to prevent any possibility of power surge from lightning.
Thunderstorms offer an exhilarating experience. As the darkening skies announce the storm’s arrival, the rumbling thunder draws you in and builds anticipation for the deluge of rain.
Lightning-strike videos are so popular because this natural phenomenon is visually compelling.
Each year, lightning strikes about 400 people in the United States, and nine out of ten individuals survive the strike.
These people report feeling a severe jolt or burning sensation before suffering lasting effects.
Formation of Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms are often preceded by changes in air temperature, cloud cover, and wind speed.
Fronts—lines where two air masses meet—sea breezes and mountains can often provide the lift needed for thunderstorms to develop.
Lightning bolts and crashing thunder may be frightening, but they are also strangely captivating.
We’ve all seen lightning strike, and the boom of thunder always seems to follow a few seconds later.
Thunderstorms are most likely to occur in the spring and summer months and during the afternoon and evening hours, but they can occur year-round, either early in the morning or night.
Note: While it is not possible to completely prevent yourself from being struck by lightning during a thunderstorm, reducing your risk of injury is possible.
What to do During a Thunderstorm when You’re Indoors
During a thunderstorm, get to a safe place inside as quickly as possible. Remain there until the storm passes.
If you’re wondering what to do in a thunderstorm at home, then follow these tips to stay safe from lightning:
Avoid Being in the Open
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you remain indoors when a thunderstorm is in the area.
Although the danger of getting struck by lightning is small, you can increase your risk by standing on a porch, balconies, standing under a tree, or going outside to watch a thunderstorm.
As soon as you hear thunder, stay away from open spaces.
Don’t Stand on Concrete
During a thunderstorm, do not stand near or lean on concrete walls, floors, or buildings.
Metal wires or bars are present in many of these structures, and lightning may follow the path of least resistance.
The lightning rod, a metal rod attached to the rooftop of a house or building, diverts the potentially destructive strike of lightning.
Avoid Using Corded Phones
The CDC recommends that if you have a telephone, electrical devices such as laptop computers, or power cords connected to an electrical outlet, you should avoid using them during a thunderstorm.
Even if these items are powered down, it is still possible for lightning to travel through the cord and shock anything plugged into the outlet.
This can also happen with phones and tablets connected to chargers; however, the possibility is low.
If you need to contact someone during a storm, use your phone or tablet.
Note: Remember to take any device you're using off the charger!
Save A Life
There is a common misconception that lightning victims are electrified and danger anyone who touches them.
However, a victim of lightning cannot store electricity such that another person could be harmed by coming into contact with the victim.
If you find yourself near someone who got struck by lightning, don’t be scared to help.
The safest thing to do is provide first aid treatment and get medical attention as soon as possible.
Avoid Indoor Crowds
Lightning is triggered by the buildup of a charge between two masses of either wet or dry air.
To avoid being struck by lightning, stay away from large groups of people.
Being in a group during a direct lightning strike can increase your chance of being struck by lightning.
By standing with others in a group, you may be able to avoid or lessen these dangerous currents by spreading out individuals over a wider area and thus diluting the charge (this is called the “dilution effect“).
Note: Stay away from the indoor swimming pool water as they attract lightning during a thunderstorm.
Stay Away from Windows or Doors
Lightning is a fascinating natural phenomenon, but you should never try to catch a glimpse of it while standing near a window.
Metal doors and windows can conduct electricity, so it’s best to stay away from them in case of lightning strikes. It’s safer for you to remain inside during storms.
That way, you won’t be at risk of being struck by lightning or electrocuted if you touch the metal door or window frames.
Avoid Taking a Shower or Anything Wet
The most overlooked safety measure on what to do in a thunderstorm in a house is touching the water.
The National Weather Service reports that when water is struck by lightning, it does not attract the flash of electricity.
However, if you are wet or in water during a thunderstorm, you put yourself at a high risk of being shocked. Therefore, during a storm, stay away from any wet things or water.
If lightning strikes your house during a thunderstorm, taking a shower or washing your hands (or any other activity involving water) can pose a danger to you.
The bolt of lightning can travel through the water pipes and electrify you in the shower or while washing your hands.
Note: In addition to being plugged into the wall, your washing machine and dryer are metal; lightning can run through them in the same way it can a toaster or microwave.
It would help if you unplugged these appliances during a storm so that you don’t risk getting hurt.
Because lightning can travel along power lines, you may not see it strike.
If a flash of lightning is followed immediately by a loud thunderclap, you are in danger of being struck.
When you are indoors, remember the 30/30 Safety Rule.
Count to 30 slowly after you hear the flash of lightning, and then wait for at least another 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before going outside.
Important Facts about Thunderstorms
1. Unplugging your Devices:
Don’t assume that a surge protector will protect your electronic equipment.
Even the best ones won’t do much to protect against lightning strikes.
Unplugging your devices before a storm hit is a quick and easy way to minimize damage.
Although the vast majority of lightning strikes occur during periods of rain and thunderstorms, some lightning strikes do happen when there are clear, cloudless skies.
3. Lightning Can Strike!
Lightning can strike people, buildings, and other structures during a thunderstorm. It is the most frequent cause of weather-related deaths.
Small thunderstorms may not make much of an impact, but severe ones can cause flash flooding and significant property damage.
Even though some thunderstorms are small and harmless, they all create lightning, which kills more people in the U.S. each year than tornadoes.
Thunderstorms also produce strong winds and hail, as well as tornadoes.
Typical thunderstorms are 15 miles in diameter, last 30 minutes on average, and produce hail and high winds.
What About Pets?
Pets are vulnerable to lightning strikes like humans.
This is whether they are in pet houses, in barns and sheds, or any other structure that is not grounded or wired with a lightning protection system.
So, before a storm hits, bring your pets inside.
Read Next: How Dangerous is Swimming in a Thunderstorm?
Thunderstorms can be loud enough, even from as far away as 10 miles, for you to hear the thunder without seeing the lightning.
Once you hear thunder, take precautions because lightning might strike nearby. Knowing what to do in a thunderstorm in a house is also very crucial because it could save your life.
If you’re doing dishes or cooking during a thunderstorm, wait until the storm is over before resuming your chores.