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What to know about lightning safety

Know what to do in order to avoid injury and property damage when lightning strikes.

Lightning striking in a residential neighborhood

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that lightning strikes the ground 25 million times per year in the United States. In 2014, those strikes resulted in 26 lightning-related fatality reports. Know basic lightning safety to help reduce your risk of being struck.

Lightning effects

According to NOAA, hundreds of people are struck by lightning each year. The good news: 90% of victims survive. The bad news: 70% suffer serious long-term effects, including:

  • Burns
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Nervous system damage
  • Muscle, ligament and bone damage
  • Neurological defects

Lightning strikes

You don't have to be hit directly to suffer injuries. You also can be struck by:

  • A side flash: Lightning jumps from its primary target to another victim.
  • A ground current: Lightning strikes an object and then travels across the ground, making contact with a victim.
  • Conduction: A victim is touching a metal surface that is struck by lightning.

Lightning safety

Lightning can travel 10 to 15 miles away from a storm, according to NOAA. If you hear thunder, you're within this range and should seek shelter immediately.

If lightning is common in your area, familiarize yourself with ways to reduce risk before and during a lightning storm. For example:

  • Go indoors at the first sign of a storm.
  • Invest in home lightning protection.
  • Avoid touching electronics or anything with a cord, such as your phone.
  • Stay away from water sources, including pipes, sinks and showers.
  • Do not stand or lean on concrete structures.
  • Seek shelter in a hard-top vehicle if you're stuck outside.
  • If you're outside and shelter isn't available, crouch down at least 100 feet from tall objects, tuck your head in and cover your ears.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.




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