The National Weather Service's catchphrase is "When thunder roars, go indoors." It is straightforward but powerful. You should get indoors as soon as you can if you hear thunder, see lightning, or the sky appears ominous.
According to Ron Holle, a meteorologist and lightning safety specialist at the National Lightning Safety Council, "the most critical thing is that you're secure inside of a large substantial building or a fully enclosed, metal-top car."
The National Weather Service advises that if you are able to enter a structure, you should close the windows and abstain from using corded electrical equipment. Additionally, you should avoid balconies, porches, garages, and exterior doors.
When lightning strikes a house, "you don't want to be tied to wiring and plumbing, like holding a wired telephone, or holding onto an appliance," said Holle. In the kitchen or bathtub, having your hands near moving water is dangerous, he added.
Pets cannot be left outside during a storm if it is unsafe for people to do so. When you hear thunder, bring your pets inside as soon as you can. According to the weather service, dog houses do not offer lightning protection, and dogs hung from trees are particularly vulnerable.
According to the weather service, most large boats with cabins are fairly safe during a thunderstorm. Small boats without a cabin, however, are dangerous. On this kind of boat, lightning-related accidents and fatalities are most common.
People are advised not to boat when thunderstorms are expected by the service. If you are on the water and you hear thunder, you should immediately head back to land and, ideally, get at least 100 yards away from it.
If you can't get to land, drop anchor, go as close to the hull as you can, and stay inside the cabin, keeping your distance from any metal objects.
If going inside isn't an option, there are a few more things you may do to modestly reduce your risk. Avoid open fields, hilltops, and ridgetops during a thunderstorm, advises the weather agency.
Similar to how you should avoid large, solitary objects like trees, you should also abandon any bodies of water right away. Of course, anything moist or made of metal that might conduct electricity should be avoided.
A safer bet is to stay in low locations like valleys and ravines. The weather agency advises spreading out if you're in a group to prevent any current from passing between people. Don't lay flat on the ground either.