Lightning, high winds, heavy rains and hail are only part of the danger

Thunderstorms have tremendous destructive power, so don’t take them lightly. Lightning can strike as far away as 10 miles from any visible rain source.

Thunderstorms also produce heavy rains which lead to flash flooding, hail, tornadoes and strong downbursts of winds called microbursts that are capable of pushing an airliner in flight down to the ground.

Even if you don’t live in an area that’s prone to thunderstorms, it's still important to be prepared because they are unpredictable. Thunderstorms can pop up any time, with devastating results. Don’t take thunderstorms lightly. Remember the rule, “If thunder roars, stay indoors.” There is no safe place outdoors when lightning is in the area.

Preparing for thunder and lightning storms

Create an emergency supply kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery- powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. Make a family emergency plan and inform babysitters and caregivers of your plan. 

Outside the house, remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.

Look around and secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage. Close the window shutters, and secure outside doors. If shutters aren't available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.

Make a plan, make a kit

If thunder roars, stay indoors: There is no safe place outdoors when lightning is in the area.

During a thunderstorm

  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: If you can't count to 30 after seeing lightning before hearing thunder, go indoors, avoid windows and doors and stay off porches. Remain indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones. Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless telephones and cellphones are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you are planning 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. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning.

Terms to know

Thunderstorm watch: There is a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area.

Thunderstorm warning: A thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon. If you are advised to take shelter, do so immediately. Listen to local officials to learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.

Watch versus warning

Call 1-800-9OUTAGE (1-800-968-8243) to report downed power lines