According to the Government of Canada, 9 to 10 people are killed and between 100 and 150 people are injured each year by lightning in Canada. The majority of the people hurt by lightning were outdoors, doing activities such as working, hiking, camping, or enjoying water sports during a thunderstorm.
When thunder roars, the safest places to be are indoors – inside a house which has plumbing and wiring or an all-metal vehicle (not a convertible).
Here are a few tips to remember during a thunderstorm:
- Open fields, the top of ridges, or hills should be avoided.
- Water, metal fences, and telephone or power lines must also be avoided.
- If a person is in the backcountry or wilderness, he/she should get off the mountain as quickly and safely as possible. Going to the opposite side of the mountain, from where the clouds are approaching, will help.
- Shelter must be sought inside a building with a roof, walls, and floors or a hard-topped vehicle as quickly as possible.
- It’s not recommended to stay underneath trees, pavilions without walls, or even in tents. A tent can actually become a grounding path for a cloud-to-ground lightning strike, because more modern tents are being made with carbon fiber or metal poles. Porches should also be avoided.
- One must wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before leaving the shelter.
- If a person is struck by lightning, an ambulance should be called right away. Victims can have a variety of symptoms, so one should be prepared to get help, administer CPR, or treat burns and trauma.
Thunder and lightning storms happen all the time. Knowing what to do when they strike can save a person’s life.