Know the Hazards: Thunder and Lightning

​Thunderstorms often come up suddenly and can present a variety of hazards, including power outages, caused by lightning, heavy rains, hail and wind. Such storms usually affect Maryland in the late spring, summer or early fall, but can happen any time cold and warm air masses collide. Thunderstorms are sometimes even associated with snow showers. About 2,000 thunderstorms are in progress around the world at any given moment with lightning striking about 100 times every second. And yes, lightning can, and does, strike twice! Each year lightning kills 80 - 100 people and injures hundreds more.Thunderstorms and lightning are very common for Maryland. Here's what you can do to protect yourself:


Before an Emergency

  • Build an emergency kit and a family communications plan.
  • Remove all dead or rotting trees and branches from your property. During a severe storm these could fall and cause injury or housing damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Secure any outdoor objects that could blow away and cause damages.
  • Unplug electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

During​ an Emergency

  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging.  Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.

After​ an Emergency​

  • ​Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to your utility company immediately.
  • Continue to listen to updates on the radio or television.

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