Five Don'ts for Thunderstorm Season

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Know how to stay safe when lightning looms
Thunderstorms are a common phenomenon around the United States, and as we have already seen this season, they can
do major damage to individual properties as well as ignite fast-moving forest fires that threaten many at once. The cloud-to-ground lightning strikes at the center of these storms can be very dangerous to you and your family whether you are indoors or out, so

Know how to stay safe when lightning looms

Thunderstorms are a common phenomenon around the United States, and as we have already seen this season, they can

do major damage to individual properties as well as ignite fast-moving forest fires that threaten many at once. The cloud-to-ground lightning strikes at the center of these storms can be very dangerous to you and your family whether you are indoors or out, so make sure everyone in your clan understands these five major don'ts of summer storms.

  1. Don't pick up the phone

Avoid

using the telephone, especially the corded variety, unless it's an absolute emergency.

  1. Don't proceed

    with indoor chores

Your home's electrical and plumbing systems can be conductive dangers when lightning

strikes, so stop any related activities if you know that a storm is on its way.

All electrical equipment such as televisions, computers and appliances should

be shut down and unplugged, as should your air conditioner, which can end up

with a damaged compressor if there's a lightning-induced power surge. Also

avoid tasks that involve contact with pipes or running water. That means

no use of sinks or showers, and no laundry chores. Finally, stay away from windows

and doors, and don't lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.

  1. Don't send Rover to the doghouse

Outdoor doghouses aren't usually lightning-safe shelters, so be sure to bring all pets

  1. Don't go outside

You may be tempted to get a closer look at a storms spectacle, but don't do so. Stay off of your porch or deck and stick to safe zones indoors. If you're already outdoors when a storm looms, quickly get to the shelter of a large, fully enclosed building (partially enclosed structures such as sheds, pavilions and carports are not safe options) or an enclosed metal vehicle. If neither of these

is immediately possible, make sure you're far away from any isolated trees or other tall objects, metal items such as poles and fences, and any recreational equipment that contains metal, like your bike or backpack. Instead of lying flat on the ground when trapped in an open area outdoors, get into a crouch by putting your feet together, squatting low, tucking your head and covering your ears.

  1. Don't stay on the road

It's best not to be on the road at all during a thunderstorm if you can help it, but if you're caught in one, use care and common sense. Pull off to the shoulder of the road in a spot that's well away from trees or anything else that could fall on your car. Turn on your emergency flashers and remain in the car until the storm passes, avoiding all metal surfaces inside the vehicle in the meantime.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weeklye-newsletter, visit the program's website.

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