Lightning Safety

Fire Chief

Stan Sharp
[email protected]
(865) 595-4480

Public Safety Complex
1630 Huron St., Bldg. C
Knoxville, TN 37917

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When summer thunderstorms hit in East Tennessee, they bring plenty of rain, thunder and lightning. Here are some things to remember when you see lightning in the area:
  • No place is absolutely safe from the lightning threat, however, some places are safer than others.
  • Large enclosed structures (substantially constructed buildings) tend to be much safer than smaller or open structures. 
  • The risk for lightning injury depends on whether the structure incorporates lightning protection, construction materials used, and the size of the structure. 
  • In general, fully enclosed metal vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses, vans, fully enclosed farm vehicles, etc. with the windows rolled up provide good shelter from lightning. Avoid contact with metal or conducting surfaces outside or inside the vehicle.

Tips to protect yourself against a lightning strike:

  • 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.
  • 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: crouch down and put feet together and place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder; avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.
  • 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.
  • SUSPEND ACTIVITIES for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.
  • 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.

Courtesy: National Lightning Safety Institute