National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Georgia Severe Weather Preparedness Week
Lightning Safety


Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather deaths in the United States. From 1995 to 2016, lightning caused 30 deaths in Georgia. Most lightning deaths occur in the summer months - usually in the afternoon and evening hours. Also, most deaths occur when people are caught outside during a storm. For those that survive a lightning strike, there can be life-long effects. Check out this viedo for some helpfull tips about Lightning. 

Lightning results from the buildup and release of electrical energy between positive and negative charges between the earth and a thunderstorm. A single lightning bolt can be as hot as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit - hotter even than the surface of the sun. This rapid heating and cooling of the air creates a shock wave which we hear as thunder. Lightning will usually strike the highest object in area. This includes trees, antennas, a boat on a lake, or a person standing in a field.


Leon the Lightning LionWhat should you do to protect yourself?
  • When thunder roars, go indoors! If you can hear thunder, you are already at risk. If you are outside, get inside a building or vehicle. Stay indoors until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. If you cannot find shelter, do not stand under a tree or remain in an open place when lightning is near. Avoid open water, as well as tractors, bicycles, motorcycles, or golf carts. These will not provide protection, and may actually attract lightning.
  • Enclosed vehicles are generally safe, if you avoid contact with metal surfaces.
  • If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
  • If you are outside, and feel your hair stand on end, this indicates lightning is about to strike. Drop to your knees and roll forward to the balls of your feet. Place your hands on your knees and tuck your head down. Do not lie flat on the ground.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land as quickly as possible.
  • If you are inside, don't use a telephone or other electrical equipment unless in an emergency.
  • Do not take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm.

Additional information about lightning safety can be found on the National Lightning Safety Page.


Want to learn more about lightning?

Visit the NWS JetStream educational page on lightning to learn more!

Annual number of lightning flashes based on observations from NASA satellites