Spring brings a return of thunderstorms, and storm safety was the main topic at the quarterly Safety and Occupational Health Advisory Council, held April 16 at Fort McCoy, Wis.
The best way to safe during a thunderstorm or other severe weather is to seek the appropriate shelter, said Safety Specialist Don Vender with the Installation Safety Office. Go inside if at all possible.
It’s also important to get inside as soon as you hear about a warning or see signs of bad weather, Vender said. Just because the sky is clear right above you doesn’t mean you’re safe.
“Lightning can reach up to 10 miles away and hit places the storm hasn’t reached or has passed, Vender said during the meeting.
If a tornado warning or watch is in effect, the best shelter is a basement. If there is no basement, seek an interior room away from windows on the first floor. Bathrooms are also good rooms to shelter in.
During a storm, avoid using electrical equipment and telephones, as lightning striking a pole can travel through the wires, Vender said.
Also avoid metal and water. Do not take baths or showers during a storm.
You also shouldn’t venture out too soon after a storm, again to avoid stray lightning strikes.
“The rule of thumb is that it’s all clear 30 minutes after the last thunder strike,” Vender said. “If, after 30 minutes, you can’t hear any thunder or see any lightning, it should be safe again.”
Storm watches are the time to plan for an upcoming or likely storm, Vender said. Watches are issued because conditions are right for a storm to form or a storm is expected within several hours.
A warning means that a storm or tornado has been spotted or is imminent. It’s time to put a plan into action, not to make one.
For more information about seasonal safety, call the Installation Safety Office at 608-388-3403.