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Lightning

It is estimated that the United States alone receives approximately 200 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year. In addition, a lightning spark can be over 5 miles in length, be as hot as 50,000 degrees and contain over 100 million electrical volts.

If a lightning storm warning is issued:

  • Stay abreast of the news via a portable radio. In North Texas a lightning storm usually means the power will flicker or completely go out.
  • Unplug expensive appliances, lightning strikes can cause electrical surges.
  • Stay away from faucets, sinks and bathtubs since metal pipes can conduct electricity.
  • Avoid using the phone.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • If you are out in the storm and near water, get to land and away from the water immediately.
  • Seek a building rather than a car for shelter.
  • If you are in your car, close the window.
  • If you cannot find shelter, get to a low lying place away from trees or other tall objects. Squat low to the ground in a tuck position. Put your head between your knees and try to keep as little of your body from touching the ground as possible.
  • Do not lie flat on the ground. This provides a greater surface from which to conduct electricity.
  • Watch for water. You may need to move if water accumulates underneath you.
  • If you ever feel your hair stand up during a storm, immediately assume the tuck position. This means that electrical charges are rushing up your body from the ground towards an electrically charged cloud.

Afterwards

  • Administer first aid if needed.
  • Note that a lightning victim usually has 2 severe burns.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Use flashlights rather than candles if the power is out.