Summer is the most likely time of year when you may find yourself caught in a thunderstorm, or surrounded by lightning. It’s important to prepared for this common, but dangerous aspect of nature.
What can you do to stay safe?
Sign up for weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
“When thunder roars, go indoors.” (Home, building, automobile) Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. Unplug electronic devices.
- If caught outside, avoid being in open areas and being the tallest object in the area. Stay away from any metal such as wires or fences.
The Atlantic hurricane season begins each year on June 1 and ends on November 30.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 35 million people live in areas that can be affected by hurricanes.
The strong winds, heavy rains and flooding that go along with hurricanes can cause serious damage to property and endanger lives. Being informed about what to do before, during and after a hurricane can help you and your family stay safe and prevent property damage.
Before and during the storm
- Be aware of any emergency alert signals issued by authorities
- Get to know the evacuation routes and emergency procedures of the places you and your family frequent, such as school or your office building
- Identify the most secure places in your home, which can be a room with few windows, a hallway or a basement
- Find evacuation and emergency shelters for your neighborhood
- Put together an emergency supply kit
- Use shutters to cover your house’s windows
- Make sure blinds and windows are closed
In case of an evacuation
- Tune your radio to NOAA’s National Weather Service to know what to do and where to go
- If you are away from your family, make a plan where to meet once the hurricane passes
- Shut windows and doors and unplug any electrical appliances before leaving the house
- Pack a bag with clothes, medicine, important documents, cash and your emergency kit
- Drive only on roads that have been approved by officials and avoid taking shortcuts that could be hazardous
- Return home only when authorities say the danger has passed
- Don’t walk or drive in flooded areas or unstable structures, such as bridges or alternate routes
- Check the area outside your house before going in, as there could be loose power lines or other dangerous objects that aren’t immediately visible
- Do not go inside if you smell gas or if there are signs of any flooding or fire as the home’s structure may be weakened
- Take photos of any damaged areas to use when filing a claim with your insurance company
Find the answer and the history of hurricane names.
Thunder and lightning storms happen frequently during the summer months, so it’s important to know what you should do if a storm catches you by surprise.
As part of National Lightning Awareness Week, FEMA offers these tips for how to avoid injury during a lightning storm:
- Avoid contact with corded phones.
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
- Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands; do not take a shower; do not wash dishes; and do not do laundry.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
If you’re caught outside during a storm, stay away from tall trees or seek shelter in a car.
Find more information on lightning safety.
When you return to a damaged home or business after a tornado, you should take extra precaution to stay safe:
- Check the foundation, porches, and overhangs for damage. If you find obvious damage, ask that a building inspector check the building first.
- Enter the building carefully - if a door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. Do not walk under a sagging ceiling until a professional checks it.
- Because of potential gas leaks, do not use any lights, candles, gas lanterns, or torches; use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns.
- If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately
- Do not turn on any appliances or switches (this includes home phones and cell phones).
- Notify the gas company, the police, fire departments, or state fire marshal’s office.
- Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance purposes.
If you survived a disaster, such as a major tornado, you may be eligible for federal assistance. If the President issued a disaster declaration for your county, you can apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For more information, or to apply over the phone, please call 1.800.621.FEMA (1.800.621.3362).
More tips on what to do after a tornado.