Lightning Safety Awareness: Outdoor Safety

No place is absolutely safe from lightning, but some places are much safer than others. The safest location during lightning activity is an enclosed building. The second safest location is a hard topped metal vehicle, such as a car, truck, van or bus.

If you seek shelter in your vehicle, make sure all doors are closed and windows are rolled up. Do not touch any metal surfaces. If you are driving when a thunderstorm begins, pull off the roadway. If a lightning flash hits your vehicle, it could cause temporary blindness.

Whenever you hear thunder or see lightning it is important to get inside a safe shelter immediately. Most individuals who have been struck by lightning were outdoors, and either engaged in yard work, a sports game or had sought shelter under or near a tree.

Small open shelters offer no protection from lightning. These include baseball dugouts, shelters on athletic fields, golf courses and school grounds. Also do not seek shelter under a tree. If there is a thunderstorm in the area, the best policy is to delay or cancel the game.

Roadside picnic areas, car ports, open garages, covered patios, large outdoor tents and small camping tents offer no protection. Backpacks containing metal can be equally dangerous.

If you are caught in the open, stay away from metal objects, such as fences, poles and bleachers. Stay away from tall, isolated objects, including trees. Lightning typically strikes the tallest object. That could be you in an open field or clearing.

If you are on a bicycle or motorcycle, wait out the storm below an overpass. Do not touch steel girders. Move away from your bike. Remain on dry surfaces if possible.

For more information on lightning safety outdoors, visit the Outdoor Lightning Safety page.