In London, we are just about to have a big thunderstorm. We are on Amber Alert and I thought I would put out some safety tips for you.
Some of these were things we did in my own family when there was a thunderstorm, and some of these I found out from other useful weather sites.
1. Mirrors – Cover them
2. Don’t use the phone with a cable. I forgot to remove the phone plug once and my answerphone was damaged and I had a crackly line. I managed to sort out the crackly line from BT though.
3. Unplug non-essential appliances to avoid a power surge and shock.
4. Don’t use a mobile phone outside
5. Avoid windows and doors. Lightning can go through glass and cracks in doors. I have also seen, horizontal lightning, when I was on the farm in Kent.
6. Stay inside, or stay in a car
7. The Met Office advises to avoid using showers, taps, sinks and baths and don’t put laundry in the washing machine.
8. Keep the dog calm, preferably with you. I also used to pull the curtains. For extreme cases, please see your vet, there are safe and effective medications to help with loud noise phobias. Dogs left out in large, open fenced area may have little protection from lightning strike. Shelter in a dog house or under a tree would present greater risk.
9. I made sure I had two ‘escape routes’ in the house, just in case. I tended to stay downstairs in a thunderstorm.
10. Charge your laptop etc beforehand. You can also warn others on social media beforehand.
11. Keep spare batteries for the radio and watch the clouds.
12. Avoid contact with plumbing
13. Avoid electrical appliances with cords. Switch them off.
14. Avoid driving in a thunderstorm, as you could get blinded by lightning and cause a crash and a fatality. Lightning, which can strike as far as 10 miles from an area of rainfall. Make sure windows in the car are shut.
15. Avoid riding on anything metal during a severe thunderstorm with close lightning, such as a bicycle or motorbike. I knew someone who was struck twice, yes, twice, on a bicycle in the UK. And avoid riding horses, who will be scared.
16. Use a suitable weather site showing you where the lightning is such as
http://www.lightningmaps.org/?lang=en#y=52.2137;x=1.5514;z=7;t=3;m=sat;r=0;s=0;o=0;b=0.00;n=0;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;ra=1; or you can calculate where the lightning is ie count the seconds between the flash and the thunder and divide by 5. Lightning can strike 5-10 miles ahead of the storm, so if the lightening flash and thunder is 30 seconds or less, it means the lightening is about 5 miles away. Be sure to seek shelter!
17. Stay away from trees and open spaces
18. Avoid fishing (one man in the US was struck using a metal rod when he was fishing six times).
19. Avoid water. Boaters and swimmers should get to shore as quickly as possible, as water conducts electricity. Avoid washing the dishes.
20. If you’re with a group of people stay about 15 feet from each other, if you are outside. One of my colleagues was in South Africa, in a school playground and lightning struck them. I think some school kids died. She was about 10 at the time.
21 Don’t stand in puddles
22. Stay away from clotheslines, fences, and drop your backpacks because they often have metal on them.
23. If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming or your hair stands on end and your skin tingles, go inside immediately!
24. Avoid using metal tools and sports equipment, like tennis racquets. (This is going to be interesting, as it is Wimbledon this week).
25. Make sure your house insurance is up-to-date
26. If thunderstorms are forecast, postpone or cancel outdoor activities
27. Do not put up an umbrella during a thunderstorm, even if other people are doing it.
28. Avoid poles
29. If you are outside, choose a low spot and crouch.
30. Be wary of venturing out too soon – the BBC Weather Centre advises waiting thirty minutes after the last flash
IF SOMEONE IS STRUCK, THE BBC ADVISE:
” Call for help as they’ll need urgent medical attention. It’s safe to touch them – people struck by lightning carry no electrical charge that can shock other people.
Check for a pulse and for breathing – if you know first aid, begin artificial respiration and CPR if necessary. If they’re breathing, check for other possible injuries. Lightning strike victims have burns in two places – where the electric shock entered and then left the body, usually the soles of the feet. They may have broken bones or loss of hearing or sight.”