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Plan & Prepare

What to do During a Thunderstorm

(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross, FEMA and the National Weather Service).

If You Are Indoors

  • Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows securely and brace outside doors. Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by wind, the blinds will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio or television for the latest storm information, and for instructions from Public Safety Officials.
  • DO NOT HANDLE corded telephones or electrical appliances! AVOID bathtubs, water faucets and sinks! Telephone lines, electrical lines and metal pipes can all conduct electricity!
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.

If You Are Outdoors

  • Stay away from bodies of water. If you are boating or swimming, get to land immediately!
  • Try to get into a building or car - but avoid convertibles.
  • If no structure is available:
    • Find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding!
    • Stay away from natural lightning rods such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, or camping equipment.
    • If you are in the woods, find an area protected by a LOW clump of trees. NEVER stand underneath a single large tree in the open.
  • IMPORTANT: As quickly as possible, make your body the SMALLEST target possible and MINIMIZE your contact with the ground:
    • SQUAT VERY LOW to the ground with your HANDS ON YOUR KNEES, only touching the ground with your feet.
    • DO NOT lie down!

If You Are In A Car

  • Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle.
  • Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until heavy rains subside.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. (Remember: Turn Around, Don't Drown!)
  • The rubber tires will NOT protect your car from being struck by lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle will provide increased protection if you are NOT touching metal in the car. You are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

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New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
P. O. Box 7068
Trenton, NJ 08628


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