© Copyright ClearPath Benefits

Prepare Employees for Deadly Lightning Storms

Original article from safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

By Chris Kilbourne

Every year, people are struck by lightning. Many are killed on the spot. Some survive with burns and injuries to internal organs. But few escape unharmed.

Whether your employees work outside or whether they just enjoy recreational time outdoors after work, they should be able to recognize signs of an oncoming lighting storm, and they should be prepared to act correctly to protect themselves from the risk.

Signs of a Brewing Storm

The signs of an oncoming storm are easy to spot. They include:

  • Darkening skies
  • Large cauliflower-shaped clouds
  • Rumbles of thunder

When these signs are present, it’s time to take precautions. Those who have access to TV or radio weather alerts can check those. Others may be able to access the Internet on their smartphones and check for weather alerts there on the Weather Channel or local TV websites.

Thunder/Lighting Calculator

According to the National Weather Service, you can tell how close the lighting is striking by listening for thunder following a flash of lighting.

If Thunder Is Heard The Lightening Is
5 seconds after a flash 1 mile away
10 seconds after a Flash 2 miles away
15 seconds after a Flash 3 miles away
20 seconds after a Flash 4 miles away
25 seconds after a Flash 5 miles away
30 seconds after a Flash 6 miles away
35 seconds after a Flash 7 miles away
40 seconds after a Flash 8 miles away


When a lighting storm threatens, the New York Department of Health recommends these precautions:

  • Seek shelter inside a building whenever possible. Avoid open shelters like pavilions or porches.
  • Once inside, stay away from open windows, sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, electric boxes and outlets, and appliances.
  • Don’t take a shower or bath during a lightning storm.
  • Avoid using a landline telephone. Cell phones are OK.
  • If in a vehicle, stay in the vehicle and roll up the windows.

If you are caught outside and there is no shelter or no time to seek adequate shelter:

  • Crouch down on the balls of your feet with your feet close together.
  • Keep your hands on your knees and lower your head.
  • Get as low as possible without touching your hands or knees to the ground, but do not lie down.

The New York State Department of Health says that you’ll know if lighting is just about to strike where you are if your skin tingles and your hair stands on end.

If you have time, however, rather than crouching where you are, it’s safest to find a low spot nearby away from trees, metal fences, pipes, and tall or long objects.

If you’re in the woods, look for an area of shorter trees. Crouch down away from tree trunks.

If you’re swimming, fishing, or boating and there are towering cauliflower-shaped clouds, dark skies, and distant rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning, get to land immediately and seek shelter.

If you are in a boat and can’t get to shore, go into the cabin or crouch down in the middle of an open boat.