FIRST ALERT: Lightning safety

FIRST ALERT: Lightning safety

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Severe Weather Awareness Week continues across South Carolina in an effort to make sure you are ready for any type of severe weather you may encounter.

Lightning kills an average of 53 people in the United States every year and injures hundreds more. Do you know what to do to stay safe when a storm approaches?

You've probably heard it before: "When thunder roars, go indoors!" Although cheesy, this invaluable piece of advice could save your life. In fact, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the thunderstorm to be struck by lightning. There is no safe place outdoors when thunderstorms are in the area. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the only safe places to be when lightning threatens are in a substantial building or a hard-topped vehicle. Rain shelters, small sheds and open vehicles are not safe.

If you are caught outdoors when a storm approaches, you should avoid open fields and tops of hills. Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects- seeking shelter near a tall tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees. Stay away from water, wet items and metal objects; water and metal are prime conductors of electricity. If you have outdoor activities planned, they should be canceled or postponed if you know a storm is approaching or if you see lightning or hear thunder.

If you are indoors when a storm approaches, stay off corded phones; cell phones and cordless phones are safe. Do not touch electrical equipment or cords and avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower, or come into any kind of contact with water. Stay away from doors and windows. If you have outdoor pets, it's important to bring them inside, especially dogs that are chained to trees or on metal chains.

After a storm passes, you should wait a minimum of 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going outside. Remember, "when thunder roars, go indoors!"

Make sure you have downloaded the WMBF First Alert Weather App to track spring and summer storms.  The app can also be set to notify you when lightning is close by.

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