Get Healthy Carson City: Thunderstorms: Lightning strikes and flash floods

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF
The summer season of thunderstorms that often brings lightning and heavy rain will shortly be upon us in western Nevada. Know the risks and precautions regarding lightning strikes and flash floods.
Risks of lightning strikes
Although the odds of being struck by lightning are low, some factors can put you at greater risk. Lightning most often strikes people who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities. In 2020, Florida and Texas had the most deaths caused by lightning. Florida is considered the “lightning capital” of the country, with more than 2,000 lightning injuries over the past 50 years.
The consequences of lightning strikes are serious. Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities. From 2009–18, lightning caused an average of 27 deaths per year in the United States. When you see lightning or hear thunder take precautions.
Outdoor safety precautions:
Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up.
Don’t forget 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.
If you are caught in an open area, act quickly to find adequate shelter. The most important action is to remove yourself from danger. Crouching or getting low to the ground can reduce your chances of being struck but does not remove you from danger. If you are caught outside with no safe shelter nearby, the following actions may reduce your risk:
• Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks
• Never lie flat on the ground. Crouch down in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ears so that you are down low with minimal contact with the ground
• Never shelter under an isolated tree
• Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
• Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water
• Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (such as barbed wire fences, power lines, or windmills)
• Stay away from concrete floors or walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring
Indoor safety precautions:
Being indoors does not automatically protect you from lightning. In fact, about one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors. Here are some tips to keep safe and reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while indoors.
• Avoid contact with water during a thunderstorm. Do NOT bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing
• Avoid using electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems
• Avoid using corded phones. Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm
• Avoid concrete floors and walls. Do NOT lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring
Lightning strikes may be rare, but they still happen, and the risk of serious injury or death is severe. Take thunderstorms seriously.
Western Nevada has its share of flash flood warnings and damages from sudden flooding. Be aware of the possibility of flooding in the desert and mountain canyons when rain occurs even at a distance from your location.
What to do during a flash flood warning:
• Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground
• Continue to check the media for emergency information
• If you must evacuate or are traveling during flooding, remember:
• Do not walk through flowing water. Most drownings occur during flash floods. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off of your feet
• Remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Don’t drive through flooded roads. Cars can be swept away in as little as one foot of moving water. If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof
• Do not drive around road barriers. Roads and bridges may be washed out or structurally unsound
• If told to shelter in place, listen to local television or radio for updates. Conditions may change quickly, so be prepared to evacuate to a shelter or a neighbor’s home if necessary
Enjoy your Nevada summer. Be smart and be safe.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment