Severe storms can be frightening, particularly for elderly people, children and pets. They’re also dangerous if you find yourself outdoors in an open area.
Blackouts can also be terrifying for young and old people – and those living alone.
Preparing for thunderstorms and blackouts
Prepare an emergency kit including batteries, torches, matches, candles and battery-operated (or wind-up) lamps and radio, as well as oil or Calor gas heaters if your heating is electric.
Keep an eye on the weather forecasts. When a thunderstorm is expected, unplug all non-essential electrical appliances as lightning can cause power surges.
If you’re outdoors, seek shelter if possible; when you hear thunder you are already within range of where the next ground flash may occur.
Secure doors and windows, draw curtains and listen to the radio for advice and warnings.
Shelter and secure pets and animals, put outdoor items, garden furniture and toys inside and fill rubbish bins with water to hold them down.
During the thunderstorm
During the thunderstorm, stay inside until it has passed, staying clear of windows. If you’re outdoors, seek a solid, enclosed shelter – but don’t stand under a tree. Avoid water and find a low-lying open place that is a safe distance from trees, poles or metal objects. Avoid activities such as golf, rod fishing or boating. If you’re in an exposed location, squat close to the ground with hands on knees and with your head tucked between them. Try to touch as little of the ground as possible. If you feel your hair stand on end, drop to the squat position immediately.
If you’re driving, stop somewhere away from trees and overhead power lines and remain in the vehicle.
Indoors, avoid using the phone and even taps and sinks as telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity.
During a power cut, remain calm. The power companies will be working to restore power. In the meantime, protect your electrical appliances by switching them off and unplugging them.
After the incident
After the thunderstorm has passed, be sure to avoid any downed power lines or broken cables.
If someone is struck by lightning they often suffer severe burns and will require emergency medical assistance.