ASK MAGLIO: NJ Summer Storm Safety
Posted: June 6, 2019
How Dangerous Is Lightning, Really?
Nothing ruins family pool day like severe thunderstorm warnings. We know lightning is a hazard, but just how dangerous is it? Most of us know there’s a slim chance we’ll be hit, so we avoid postponing barbecues, outdoor parties or tennis matches. Before you let your guard down, keep basic lightning awareness in mind. Use an app or weather channel to stay updated about summer storm warnings—and educate yourself about lightning safety. Taking proper precautions can help safeguard kids, family members and pets during volatile storm seasons.
Quick Lightning Facts & Myth Busters
- Lightning can strike when skies are not cloudy—even miles from an active thunderstorm.
- Outdoor lightning strikes are most common, but lightning can and has hit people indoors.
- An average lightning flash could power a 100-watt bulb for 90 days. (NOAA)
- It’s a myth that vehicle tires insulate you from lightning strikes. Rubber is an insulating material, but bicycle and car tires are too thin to protect from lightning.
- Lightning victims are not “electrified” or dangerous to touch. If you encounter someone hit by lightning, it is perfectly safe for you to provide physical support until help arrives.
Lightning Strikes by the Numbers
It’s no surprise our team of Hunterdon County electricians takes lightning very seriously, and we urge you to do the same. When electrical currents pass through our bodies, they can trigger vision and hearing loss, confusion, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, skin burns, muscle pain or weakness, and a host of other nasty symptoms. In the worst cases, lightning strikes lead to cardiac arrest and death.
According to NOAA’s National Weather Service Storm Data and the National Severe Storms Laboratory:
- On average, 60 people are killed by U.S. lightning strikes each year.
- Ten percent of those hit by lightning are killed. Ninety percent have varying degrees of disabling symptoms after recovering from a strike.
- The odds of being struck during an estimated 80-year lifetime are 1 in 13,000.
What Should I Do to Stay Safe During Lightning Storms?
When lightning illuminates NJ skies, Maglio Electric encourages residents to get indoors and wait out the storm whenever possible. As inevitable summer thunderstorms begin to brew, protect yourself and your family by:
- Paying attention to thunder. At the first sign of a thunderstorm, head to an enclosed shelter. CDC recommendation: “The main lightning safety guide is the 30-30 rule. After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.”
- Seeking the best shelter option. Avoid areas with concrete floors and walls, since underlying metal rebar can act as a lightning rod. Look for fully enclosed spaces instead of outdoor pavilions or picnic coverings. Most open shelters at parks, schools and athletic fields are NOT lightning safe. Vehicles without soft tops are a second-best option if there are no safe buildings nearby. When you can’t get inside, head for low ground and steer clear of tall structures like telephone poles or high fences.
- Remembering water & lightning don’t mix. Electrical currents can travel through plumbing and bathroom or kitchen wiring. To be safe, avoid taking showers, doing the dishes or starting the laundry during a thunderstorm.
- Avoiding landline calls & electrical connections. Cell phones are safe to use during a storm. If your home or business still has a landline, don’t use it until the storm has passed. Lightning can also travel through TVs, radios, electronics and appliances—so it’s best to grab a good book and ride out the weather.
- Protecting home electronics users & systems. Before a looming storm, disconnect computers, modems and satellites. Users are at risk of electrocution during a power surge, and lightning can do catastrophic damage to computer hardware, security systems and devices.
Request a Hunterdon County Home Electrical Inspection
At Maglio Electric, your family’s safety is our No. 1 priority. To request a home electrical inspection, inquire about lightning safety equipment or schedule an estimate for whole-house surge protection, call 908.735.6218. Visit our Resource Center for more in-depth safety information, and check out the links below for comprehensive lightning safety tips from leading experts.