There is no place outdoors that is completely safe during a thunderstorm, so the saying goes, “When thunder roars, go indoors!”
The safest thing to do is to get inside a safe building or vehicle. A safe building is one that is covered with a roof, walls and floor, and has plumbing or wiring. Stay away from metal and electrical equipment, including computer, plumbing and faucets. Keep away from windows and doors, and don’t hang out on a porch to watch the lightning storm.
Many lightning injuries and deaths occur on boats that do not have cabins.
So, listen to the weather when boating, and if thunderstorms are forecast, get off the water.
If you cannot get indoors, avoid elevated areas like mountain tops and open fields. Never lie on the ground or seek protection under an isolated tree. Stay away from metal objects like fences, golf carts and farm equipment.
A lightning bolt can travel many miles away from a thunderstorm before striking the ground. These are called “bolts from the blue” because they appear to strike out of the clear blue sky. New instruments to study lightning have measured lightning bolts that seem to come out of the cloud base, striking ground 50 miles from where they originate.
The National Weather Service keeps track of when, where and who gets hit by lightning.
Lightning strikes Wisconsin soil about 300,000 times a year, mostly during spring and summer. On a yearly average, lightning causes about one death in Wisconsin and 62 deaths nationally. Your chances of getting hit by lightning are about one in 1 million.