Caught Outside in a Storm?


In a tragic accident over the weekend, a man and his horse were both killed when struck by a bolt of lightning outside Bridger, Montana while at a branding.  For agricultural producers, catching yourself outside in a storm is a common occurrence.  These tips, from the National Lightning Safety Institute outline precautions that need to be taken in storms:

1.)  PLAN in advance your evacuation and safety measures. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. Lightning often precedes rain, so don’t wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.

2.)  IF OUTDOORS…Avoid water. Avoid the high ground. Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should:

      A. Crouch down. Put feet together. Place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.

      B. Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.

3.)  IF INDOORS… Avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Do not use the telephone. Take off head sets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, & TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.

4.)  SUSPEND ACTIVITIES for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

5.)   INJURED PERSONS do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.


They also teach the simple slogan “If you can see it, flee it; if you can hear it, clear it.”  Your local radio station is one of the best sources for up-to-date weather information and alerts.

© Northern Ag Network 2011

Haylie Shipp


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