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Summer Fire Safety Series: Lightning Fires

Updated: Jan 22

Forest fire

To conclude our Summer Fire Safety series, we’re covering a topic that you may not consider when thinking about fire safety during the Summer. It’s not something to do with your favorite Summer social gatherings or holidays, and it’s not even something you have any control over like you do with fireworks, grilling, and campfires. But it causes millions of dollars in direct property damage each year and results in dozens of civilian injuries nonetheless, so it’s important to know what you can do when lightning strikes.

Lightning strikes and fires caused by lightning occur throughout the entire year, but they are far more common from June through August—the Summer months—making it a great time to discuss lightning fires. Most lightning strikes occur outside in an open area, often causing wildfires, but the majority of related deaths, injuries, and property damage happen when lightning strikes near a home, resulting in a home fire. While you cannot control whether or not a lightning strike or lightning fire will affect you or your property, there are things you can do during a thunderstorm that can significantly decrease the likelihood of being affected. Here are some tips from the National Fire Protection Association for when you’re outside during a lightning storm:

  1. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Look for shelter inside a home, large building, or a hard-topped vehicle right away.

  2. Do not go under trees for shelter.

  3. Wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before leaving your shelter.

  4. Stay away from windows and doors. Stay off porches.

  5. There is no safe place outside. Places with only a roof on sports fields, golf courses, and picnic areas are not safe during a lightning storm. Small sheds should not be used.

  6. If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 and get medical help right away.

If you’re indoors during a lightning storm, here are some tips for you:

  1. Turn off computers. Stay off corded phones, computers, and other things that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing. You can use a cell or cordless phone.

  2. Do not wash your hands, bathe, shower, do laundry, or wash dishes.

For more information about lightning strikes and lightning fires, you can read more on the NFPA website here.

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