Thunderstorms and lightning

Lightning

Don't believe the myths

There are many myths surrounding lightning - such as lightning never strikes the same place twice or it always strikes the tallest object. Both are false, as lightning strikes the best conductor on the ground - whether it has been struck before or not.

Make sure you know what to do

Before the thunderstorm

  • Unplug all non-essential appliances, including the television, as lightning can cause power surges.
  • Seek shelter if possible. When you hear thunder you are already within range of where the next ground flash may occur, lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the centre of a storm.

During the thunderstorm

  • Avoid using the phone - telephone lines can conduct electricity.
  • Avoid using taps and sinks - metal pipes can conduct electricity.
  • If outside avoid water and find a low-lying open place that is a safe distance from trees, poles or metal objects.
  • Avoid activities such as golf, rod fishing or boating on a lake.
  • If you find yourself in an exposed location it may be advisable to squat close to the ground, with hands on knees and with head tucked between them. Try to touch as little of the ground with your body as possible, do not lie down on the ground.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, drop to the above position immediately.

After the thunderstorm

  • Avoid downed power lines or broken cables.
  • If someone is struck by lightning they often suffer severe burns. The strike also affects the heart, so check if they have a pulse.

Last updated: 16 May 2013