What should I do if I hear thunder?

Dateline article| David Murphy|

by David Murphy

Take cover. Get indoors immediately and stay on the ground floor. Do not take a shower or wash dishes by hand. Do not use a hard-wire telephone (one that is connected to a wall outlet with a cord or wire). Stay away from plugged-in appliances.

All these precautions are due to the fact that when lightning strikes a building, its intense electrical charge will follow the plumbing and electrical wires into the ground. If you are touching or standing near the pipes or wires (or anything that uses them), you could get a serious shock.

If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a car, but not a convertible. If you cannot find a car or other indoor shelter, seek out a valley or depression in the ground. Crouch or lie down. If you're in a wooded area, seek shelter in dense woods, or in a thick growth of small trees. The idea is that you do not want to be standing under a single, large tree, which can more easily act as a lightning rod. Standing near the base of the tree is no good either, even if you're not touching its trunk. Electricity from the lightning bolt may arc through the air and contact you, or it may shoot across the ground and shock you through your feet, even if you're wearing rubber soled shoes.

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