Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Boston, MA
NOUS41 KBOX 221516
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Taunton MA
1116 AM EDT WED JUN 22 2016
...Lightning Safety Awareness Week Continues - Safe Shelters and
A house or other substantial building offers the best protection
from lightning. In assessing the safety provided by a particular
structure, it is more important to consider what happens if the
structure gets struck by lightning, rather than whether the
structure will be hit by lightning. For a shelter to provide
protection from lightning, it must contain a mechanism for
conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to
the ground. These mechanisms may be on the outside of the
structure, may be contained within the walls of the structure,
or may be a combination of the two. On the outside, lightning
can travel along the outer shell of the building, or may follow
metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside a structure,
lightning can follow conductors such as the electrical wiring,
plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.
Unless specifically designed to be lightning safe, small
structures do not protect occupants from lightning. Many small
open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks,
roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed
to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning. A
shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or
some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not
safe. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer no protection
from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.
There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings,
a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the
structure, and through the ground. Regardless of the method of
entrance, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through
the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television/computer
systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or
bars in concrete walls or flooring.
In the past, the use of corded phones was the leading cause of
indoor lightning injuries in the United States. However, with
more and more cordless and cell phones in use, the number of
phone injuries has been diminishing. At the same time the number
of children injured while playing video games that are plugged
into a wall, television or computer has been increasing.
Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical
wires, particularly in rural areas. Stay away from windows and
doors as these can provide the path for a direct strike to enter
Do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely
contains a wire mesh. In general, basements are a safe place to
go during thunderstorms. However, there are some things to keep
in mind. Avoid contact with concrete walls which may contain
metal reinforcing bars. Avoid washers and dryers since they not
only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems, but
also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer
Lightning also causes significant damage to personal property
each year. In addition to direct strikes, lightning generates
electrical surges that can damage electronic equipment some
distance from the actual strike. To the extent possible, unplug
sensitive electronic equipment from all conductors well before a
thunderstorm threatens. For your safety, do not unplug equipment
from the wall when a thunderstorm is nearby. Do not forget to
disconnect televisions or radios from outdoor antennas. If you
plan to be away from your home when thunderstorms are possible,
be sure to unplug unneeded equipment before you leave.
Summary of lightning safety tips for inside the home:
1. Avoid contact with corded phones.
2. Do not use computers, electrical equipment or cords. If you
plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do it well before the
3. Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands. Do not
take a shower. Do not wash dishes. Do not do laundry.
4. Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
5. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
Lightning fact for the day,
The average flash of lightning contains enough electricity to
light a 100 watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
Lightning question of the day, is it safe to talk on a cell or
cordless phone during a thunderstorm?
Answer, compared to talking on a corded phone, a cordless phone
is much less of a hazard. However, there is a momentary risk of
being struck by lightning when the phone is being removed from
its cradle. Once out of its cradle, it is safe to use a cordless
phone during a thunderstorm, provided that you are in a safe
For additional information about lightning or lightning safety,
visit the NOAA lightning safety awareness Web site at
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