Thunder is the sound caused by a nearby flash of lightning and can be heard for a distance of only about 10 miles from the lightning strike, according to the National Weather Service. So although you may be desensitized to it, the sound of thunder should serve as a warning to anyone outside that they are within striking distance of the storm and need to get to a safe place immediately.
Lightning strikes kill U.S. residents every year, and Oklahomans unfortunately have not been immune. A 14-year-old girl was struck and killed while swimming with her friends in a popular swimming hole in northeast Oklahoma in August 2023.
Remember, if you can hear thunder, chances are you're within striking distance of the storm. You don't want to get struck by the next flash of lightning. Follow the safety tips below.
GET INDOORS: Go inside or get into a hard-topped vehicle.
If you’re caught outside:
- Do not lie flat on the ground
- Crouch with your feet together
- Do not seek shelter under trees
- Stay away from windows
- Don’t use the phone
- Stay away from electric appliances
- Stay away from water
- Unplug appliances to protect them
- A boat is usually the highest object in its area. This situation makes boats especially vulnerable to lightning strikes. Get to shore and into a building if possible.
- Lower fishing poles and other tall object
- Stay in a dry spot on the boat if possible
- Do not touch electrical or metal objects
The best way to protect yourself is to plan ahead so you’re not caught outside when storms threaten. Also, be prepared to make a tough decision—to stop your golf game or your work when storms approach. When you think about it, the consequences of missing part of a golf game are a small price to pay for assured safety.
Carry a portable NOAA Weather Radio with you to enable you to keep abreast of all weather situations. These radios provide 24-hour weather coverage from the National Weather Service.