Lightning Dos and Don’ts: Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Thunderstorm with lightning in the sky

It’s thunderstorm season in many places across the US. The summer heat often brings storms with heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. This article will cover the lightning dos and don’ts for whether you’re outdoors or indoors during a thunderstorm. 

What is Lightning?

Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by particle imbalances within clouds or between clouds and the ground. Most lightning occurs in the clouds, but it can sometimes produce a strike that bolts to the ground. Either way, knowing the dos and don’ts during a thunderstorm is essential.

Lightning Safety Outdoors

Lightning Strikes over City at night


Do stay alert. If the forecast says there’s a chance of thunderstorms, plan your activities accordingly. It’s safest to be indoors during a thunderstorm.

Do act quickly. If you hear thunder, lightning could be close, so act fast and seek safe shelter immediately.

Do go indoors. Indoors is the safest place from lightning. If you are caught outdoors and away from shelter, try to find a safe place as fast as possible. 

However, if you are far away from shelter, you can do the following actions to reduce your risk of being struck by lightning:

  • Crouch down to the ground in a ball position. Have as little of your body touching the ground as possible. 
  • Move off of elevated surfaces such as hills and mountains.
  • Stay away from materials that conduct electricity, such as metal fences.
  • Get out of and move away from bodies of water.

Do return to shore. Return to shore as swiftly as possible if you are on a boat or in open waters. If you cannot reach the coast, you can go inside the boat’s cabin if it has one or crouch down to the ground as low as possible. 

Do avoid open areas like beaches, pools, sports fields, etc. 

Do spread out. If you are in a group, have everyone spread out, as this can lower the number of injuries if lightning strikes the ground.

Do stay in a safe location until 30 minutes have passed after the last thunder.


Don’t lie flat on the ground to avoid lightning traveling through it to strike you. 

Don’t shelter under an isolated tree if caught in an open area.

Don’t use a cliff or rocky structure for shelter.

Don’t stay in open structures like gazebos, baseball dug-outs, or porches. Instead, move to a complete indoor shelter if that’s an option.

Don’t stand near tall structures like telephone poles or trees. A lightning strike usually hits the tallest object in the area.

Lightning Safety Indoors

Thunderstorm coming in over a house


Do stay away from concrete floors and walls. Lightning can travel through metal wires that may be inside the concrete.

Do move away from doors, porches, and windows.

Do stay indoors until 30 minutes after the last thunder rumble.

Do protect your electrical equipment from lightning by using surge protectors.


Don’t come in contact with any water. You shouldn’t wash dishes, take showers or baths, or do anything else involving water. Lightning can travel through plumbing. 

Don’t use electrical equipment that’s plugged into the walls. Lightning can travel through metal wires and cords. 

Don’t use corded phones. Instead, use a cell phone or another cordless phone.


Thunderstorm safety is essential to know regardless of location and age. Storms can roll in quickly, so you never know when you may get caught in one. Prepare now and act fast if and when it happens.
Tags: Disasters, React