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What to do in a thunderstorm

It's hard to predict exactly when and where a thunderstorm will strike, so people are often taken by surprise. In this health tip we explain exactly what to do.

As soon as you see a thunderstorm looming you should seek shelter, ideally in a building or car. There are certain rules to follow to protect yourself from lightning:
  • Avoid mountain crests and ridges and other exposed spots at risk of being struck by lighting.
  • Stay well away from trees standing on their own, groups of trees, masts and towers.
  • Avoid getting too close to metallic objects and bodies of water.
  • If you're in the water when a thunderstorm starts, get back on dry land as quickly as you can.
  • You should also avoid the beds of streams and areas with steeply sloped inclines.
  • If there's no prospect of protection far and wide and the thunderstorm is raging around you, hunker (squat) down. Keep your feet close together to minimise the area of your body in contact with the ground.
  • If you're in a group you should all stay at least two metres apart.
To be on the safe side, before you set out you should enquire how local weather conditions are going to develop.

What to do after a thunderstorm
If anyone's injured, give them first aid and call the emergency services. Look out for fallen cables and power lines, and on no account touch them. Rivers and streams are a great potential danger, as heavy rainfall in a thunderstorm can transform calm waters into a raging torrent in an instant.

Good to know
  • The MeteoSwiss app sends out natural hazard warnings by way of push notifications.
  • To work out roughly how far away a thunderstorm is, you can divide the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the subsequent thunderclap by three.