How To Drive In A Lightning Storm

Lightning can strike at any time of the year. Here’s what to do if you encounter it on the road.

Did you know that lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes do? Or that rubber tires provide no protection from lightning? Lightning can happen almost anywhere, at any time of the year, even when it’s not raining. So it’s best to be prepared to deal with lightning storms by following these tips.

MONITOR THE FORECAST
As a first step, before you head out, always know your local weather forecast. If the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning, try to stay home until the storm has passed or until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap—because every thunderstorm produces lightning.

LOOK AND LISTEN
If you must be out on the road, listen for thunder and look for darkening skies, increasing wind and flashes of light. These can be signs of a dangerous storm brewing.

PULL OVER TO A SAFE PLACE AND TURN ON HAZARD LIGHTS
If a storm is approaching, safely exit the roadway, park your vehicle, and turn on your hazard lights. Avoid pools of water or low ground, in case of flooding. Also avoid high areas, tall isolated trees and utility poles. If you can safely take shelter inside a nearby building, do so.

STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE
If your vehicle is your shelter, it’s very important to stay put. Do not get out to view or film the lightning—you are much safer inside a hardtop vehicle than outside of it.

CLOSE THE WINDOWS
If the windows are open, a lightning strike on the vehicle could jump inside.

AVOID TOUCHING ANY METAL
Fold your hands in your lap to avoid touching metal or other conductive surfaces in or outside the vehicle, including radios, cell phone chargers, GPS devices, door handles, foot pedals and your steering wheel.

IF LIGHTNING STRIKES
If lightning strikes your vehicle, you’ll hear a boom and see a bright flash, and maybe even some sparks.

IT’S THE METAL THAT MATTERS
It’s a myth that rubber tires protect you from lightning. It’s actually the metal that matters. If lightning strikes, it will generally flow along the vehicle’s metal cage and into the ground without seriously injuring anyone inside.

Vehicles with nonmetal roofs, like convertibles or those with fiberglass shells, will probably not protect you from lightning. So if you drive such a car, it’s even more important to stay off the road during a thunderstorm.

WAIT
Technically, it is safe to exit your vehicle after the electrical current has passed into the ground. But it’s a good idea to wait until the thunderstorm has moved on before getting out of your car, as lightning can strike twice.

CALL 911
If someone in your vehicle is hit by lightning, first call 911. If the person struck has stopped breathing, begin CPR and continue until breathing resumes or professional help arrives. A person struck by lightning does not retain an electrical charge and can be handled safely.

PLAN AHEAD
Overall, your best bet is to be prepared and keep on top of your local weather forecast. Stay safe!

By Jordan Mendoza
Tags: Service

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