Thunderstorms and lightning

Most thunderstorms pass without any serious consequences; if you are expecting a particularly heavy or prolonged storm you may want to take a few precautions. The Met Office gives the following advice for thunderstorms and lightning:

Before the storm

  • pay attention to severe weather warnings issued by the Met Office
  • unplug unnecessary electrical devices, including the TV; power surges could break them
  • if you are outside, seek shelter where possible. If you can hear thunder you are within range of the next lightning strike

During the storm

  • avoid using a landline phone - telephone lines can conduct electricity
  • avoid taps, including showers - water and metal pipes can conduct electricity
  • if you are outside, avoid water and find a low-lying open place that is a safe distance from trees, poles and metal objects
  • avoid activities such as golf, rod fishing, or boating on a lake
  • be aware of metal objects that can conduct or attract lightning
  • if you find yourself in an exposed location it may be advisable to
    • squat down
    • place your hands on your knees
    • tuck your head between them
    • try to touch as little of the ground with your body as possible
    • do not lie down on the ground in an exposed location
  • if you feel your hair stand on end, drop to the above squat position immediately.

After the storm

  • do not touch electrical/telephone cables that are hanging loose
  • if someone is struck by lightning, they often suffer severe burns. The strike also affects the heart, so check if they have a pulse.

Driving in a thunderstorm

If you are caught out in thunder and lightning it is advised that you wind up the windows and stay inside your car; the metal frame will act as a cage and pass the current around the passengers and on to the ground.

Page last updated: 26 February 2024

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