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Content developed in collaboration with National Organization on Disability's Emergency Preparedness Initiative


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Thunderstorms and Lightning

How to Identify a Thunderstorm

  • Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Gives information about when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar; imminent danger to life and property of those in the path of the storm

How to Prepare for a Thunderstorm

  • See Get A Kit and Make A Plan for general information
  • Discuss special needs you may have during a thunderstorm with your support network and plan accordingly
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage
  • If a thunderstorm is likely in your area:
    • Postpone outdoor activities
    • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile
    • Shutter windows and secure outside doors
    • Avoid showering or bathing
    • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners

How to Respond to a Thunderstorm

  • Avoid the following:
    • Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area
    • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water
    • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas
    • Anything metal (tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles)
  • If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees
  • If you are in an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley
  • If you are on open water, get to land and find shelter immediately
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, the air around you is electrically charged and lightning is about to strike
    • Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet
    • Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees
    • Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground
    • Do not lie flat on the ground

More Information