How to keep your family safe during thunderstorms

The following web story is a direct transcription from the National Weather Service regarding lightning awareness week. This is the third of a five part series on lightning safety which will run each day during New York's lightning safety awareness week. Todayâ??s topic will focus on lightning safety outdoors.

You can minimize your risk of being struck by lightning while outdoors. Many lightning deaths and injuries in the United States occur during the summer months in the afternoon, when outdoor activity is at its peak. During the summer, people take advantage of the weather for a multitude of recreational activities.

Being outside when thunderstorms are nearby involves risk, and certain locations are worse than others. To be safe, whether you are boating, swimming, fishing, jogging, bicycling, hiking, walking, camping or working outdoors, you need to take the appropriate action in a timely manner when thunderstorms approach. While outdoors, minimize your risk of being struck by lightning by getting to a safe place before the threat of lightning becomes significant. Stay there until the threat ends. In general, the threat begins well before most people think it does and ends well after most people think it ends. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding accounts for many lightning casualties.

While no one can completely eliminate the risk of being struck by lightning, by using some basic safety rules you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning victim:

First: Plan ahead! If thunderstorms are forecasted, postpone or cancel outdoor activities so that you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Watch the forecast on air on any of the networks of CNYcentral on NBC-3, CBS-5, and CW-6. You can log onto and get your forecast 24-7-365, as well.

: Monitor weather conditions. Watch the sky for any signs of developing or approaching storms and leave time to get to a safe place. Keep an eye on the Triple Doppler Radar loop and Interactive Doppler Radar on You can stay connected anytime by downloading our new CNYcentral Mobile App here.

Third: If the sky looks threatening or you hear thunder, immediately seek shelter inside a substantial building. Remain there for at least 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning is seen or the last rumble of thunder is heard. Some lightning victims have actually made the mistake of returning outside before the threat is over.

: If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you should try and minimize your risk of being struck. Stay away from tall objects such as trees and poles. Stay away from objects that conduct electricity such as metal bleachers or metal fences. Also, try to make yourself as small a target as possible and minimize your contact with the ground. If you or your children are involved in organized outdoor activities, make sure the officials in charge have and follow a specific lightning safety plan. Do not be afraid to ask. Coaches, umpires, or school and camp counselors need to know to stop activities early, so there is enough time to get participants and spectators to a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant.

If you can not get to a substantial building, a hard topped metal vehicle is good shelter. Be sure to roll up windows and make sure the occupants avoid contact with any metal inside the vehicle. Finally, donâ??t forget the safety of outside pets. Dog houses are not safe, and dogs that are on a metal chain or wire runner are particularly vulnerable to a nearby lightning strike.

The topics for the remainder of the week are:

Thursday: Lightning safety indoors.

Friday: The medical aspects of lightning.

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