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You can hide, but you can’t run

- Arjun Gurung

Everyday in the summer time, as the evening approaches, the winds bring along dark clouds that hold more bark than bite. Yes, clouds that flash more lightening than it delivers rain. A thunder storm may be an exciting thing if you’re safe inside a house, but a scary thing if you’re caught out in the open. You can hide, but surely, you can’t out run a lightening bolt.

If you happen to be out in the open when a thunder storm catches you, take care you don’t get hit. Some things to remember during such times are;

  • Detect how close the lightening is. You can make an estimation of how close the lightening is by counting the time it takes a thunder (the sound) to arrive after a lightening. Considering factors like humidity and temperature sound may travel roughly 1 kilometer in 3 seconds. So if the time gap between the lightening and thunder is 10 seconds, then the lightening is roughly three kilometers away from you. Experts suggest that if that gap is of 30 seconds or less you should take shelter in doors and wait out the storm for 30 minutes. That is called the 30/30 rule.
  • If possible always take shelter inside a building. If one isn’t available then a hard covered car would be the next best choice, provided you don’t touch any metal in it. If caught out in a wooded area, avoid the taller trees. Take shelter in a low area under a thick growth of low trees.
  • Avoid lightening rods like tall isolated trees and sheds in open places. Any thing metal like golf clubs and umbrellas also ought to be avoided.
  • If during a thunder storm, a lightening has struck somewhere near you, or you have counted the lightening to be real close and the hairs of your body are standing upright and there is no safe shelter nearby, turn yourself into a human ball to minimize the target area for the lightening. Crouch on the balls of your feet and tuck down your head as close as you can to your knees, with your hands close to your body. If in a group do the same but spread out. Contrary to the belief, do not lie flat on the ground!


Just because you’re indoors doesn’t necessarily mean you are safe. You could still get electrocuted. Here’s how to avoid getting so.

  • Keep away from corded phones. Telephone lines are a good conductor of electricity. Mobile phones and cordless phones are safer.
  • Forget that shower no matter how bad you smell. Water and the metal plumbing can easily conduct electricity. The same thing goes for washing dishes.
  • Before lightening hits your area, unplug all electric appliances. Video games, T.V set, radios, computers – all of them. Using electric appliances during a thunder storm not only damages your equipment, but also can allow the lightening a way into your home.
  • The storm may be mystically beautiful to look at, but do not get lured into gazing out of the window. Metal window frames can conduct electricity and a window pane could burst in your face from an acoustic shock of thunder, wind-blown objects, or large-size hail.

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