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Fact Sheet

Thunderstorms are intense local storms spreading out over an average area of 20 miles and reaching up to 10 miles in height. They happen in all 50 states and are always accompanied by lightning.

To Prepare:

Create a Family Emergency Plan
 Designate a place in your home where your family should gather during a thunderstorm. This place should be free of windows, glass doors or skylights. The best gathering place is usually the basement. In a building without a basement choose a center hallway, bathroom or closet, preferably on the lowest floor. In any case, make sure this location is clutter free.

Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit
 Include a first aid kit and basic medications, battery-powered flashlight and radio, extra batteries, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, work gloves and sturdy shoes, and written instructions on how to turn off your home's utilities.

Learn First Aid and CPR
 Check with the South Dakota Safety Council or your local community center for course offerings.

As a Storm Approaches:

Listen to your local TV and radio stations for up-to-date storm information.

Be aware of the possibility of lightning: Watch for darkening skies, increased wind and flashes of light.Listen for thunder. If you can hear thunder, the storm is close enough that you could be struck by lightning. Get to a safe shelter immediately!

Avoid using the telephone and unplug appliances - these items may conduct electricity.

Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload your compressor resulting in costly damage.

Close window shades and blinds to help prevent glass from shattering into your home.

Avoid running the water; plumbing pipes can conduct the electrical charge from lightning.

If caught outdoors:

Get to the safest spot possible
 Choose a low-lying open place away from poles, metal objects and trees.
 If you are in the woods, find shelter under shorter trees.
 If swimming or boating, get to land and find shelter immediately.

Be a small target
 Squat low to the ground with your hands on your knees and your head between your knees.
 Do not lie flat on the ground-you actually become a bigger target.

After a Storm Passes:

Stay away from storm-damaged areas and especially avoid downed power lines.

Listen to the radio for instructions and information

If Lightning Strikes Someone

Call 911 immediately

Give First Aid
 Contrary to popular belief, people struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge.
 If the victim has received an electrical shock, there may be two areas of burn (one where the electricity entered the body and one where it exited the body).

American Red Cross

Contact the South Dakota Safety Council at
or phone 605-361-7785 or 1-800-952-5539.