Lightning safety tips - What to do and not do to survive

With the deaths of two people hit by lightning in the last week in Rocky Mountain National Park, many are asking -- how can I survive a lightning storm?

The National Weather Service has simple advice, "When the thunder rolls, get indoors."

That's because if you're close enough to hear thunder, you're close to get hit by lightning.

"Stop activities and seek shelter immediately in a substantial building or hard-top vehicle," the National Weather Service says.

However, we all know that isn't always possible.

So now what?

The National Weather Service has a lot of "nevers":

  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree (A tree is tall and if it gets hit, the electricity will fan out below it)
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

So what do you do?

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Get rid of any metal on your body -- cell phone, keys, etc...
  • Become a ball. Crouch down, feet together, head as low as possible. The idea is to make yourself as small as possible.

Think it can't happen to you? In Colorado, we had 7,500 lightning strikes between noon and 5 p.m. on Monday. Colorado ranks 2nd or 3rd each year in the number of deadly lightning strikes.

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