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Thunderstorms & Lightning

Impressive lightning framed against a purple-hued storm

Thunderstorms & Lightning

Be Prepared:

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: A severe thunderstorm is likely to occur in your area. Monitor local media and listen to your NOAA weather radio for updates and further information.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm is occurring in the area. Seek shelter immediately.

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall on your home with strong winds.
  • Postpone outdoor activities until the storm has passed.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could be blown around, such as garbage cans and patio furniture.
  • Close all windows and blinds.
  • Charge cell phones and other wireless communication devices.
  • Sign up to receive text or e-mail alerts from your local media, weather provider or the National Weather Service.
  • Plan a way to monitor local weather and news while in shelter.
  • Identify the safest shelter location in your home; it should be on the lowest level, away from windows and doors.
  • Prepare for a power outage. See Blackouts

Be Safe:


  • Rain
  • Dark Skies
  • Lightning
  • Increased Wind Speed


  • Do not use corded devices, such as house phone or anything that plugs into a wall outlet.
  • Do not complete activities that use water or plumbing, such as laundry and showering.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Avoid tall and isolated objects. They are the most likely to be struck by lightning.
  • If you are outdoors with no place to shelter, seek low level ground that is away from trees and metal objects.
  • If you are traveling by car, pull over and remain in your vehicle until the storm passes.
  • If you are boating or swimming, go to land and seek shelter immediately.

If someone is struck by Lightning:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Check for breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Check for a heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, begin CPR.
  • Check for other injuries, such as broken bones or loss of hearing and eyesight.

Note: It is okay to give first aid without fear of being hurt; the victim will not carry and electrical charge.  

  • Wait 30 minutes before you go outdoors, remain cautious and remember that lightning can strike 10 miles away from a storm.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Monitor weather for other severe storms.
  • Check on elderly and children who may need help.


More Information/Additional Resources:
FEMA Thunderstorms and Lightning:
FEMA CDC Accessible: Shelters and Evacuations During a Disaster (ASL Video)
FEMA Accessible: Tips on How to Return Home Safely after a Disaster (ASL Video)
FEMA Accessible: Shelter in Place During a Disaster (ASL Video)
FEMA Poster: How to Prepare for a Thunderstorm, Lightning or Hail (PDF)