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All lightning can be deadly. When you hear thunder or see lightning, GO INDOORS. In addition to potentially deadly lightning, a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM also has wind greater than 58 mph (50 knots), hail 1” or larger, and/or a tornado.

A WATCH means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather in the watch area. Pay attention to broadcasts, and prepare to take action.

A WARNING is an URGENT announcement that hazardous weather is occurring, or is imminent. Take immediate action to protect life and property!


  • STAY INDOORS, do not exit building or use elevators. You could be trapped in them if power is lost. Locate an interior room.
  • HELP DIRECT people with special needs to a safe place, if necessary.
  • REMAIN INSIDE until 30 minutes after the last thunder.

In the event of a TORNADO WARNING, or if a funnel cloud is reported:

  • GO directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building, corners or building support columns are best. Avoid middle of interior walls.
  • STAY AWAY from all windows and large glass objects.
  • CROUCH DOWN and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly.
  • AVOID being underneath heavier objects such as lights, wall hangings and other items, which may fall.
  • REMAIN INSIDE until tornado has passed or cleared to leave.
  • Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or nearby fuel tanks.
  • HELP DIRECT people with special needs to a safe place, if necessary.
  • IF INSTRUCTED to evacuate, see “EVACUATION” section of this guide.


  • MOVE AWAY from trees, buildings, walls, and power lines.
  • SEEK the lowest possible ground, i.e. ditch, small trench. Lying flat in a ditch or low-lying area may be the only thing available. Note: Never enter an open trench where a cave in or flooding may be possible.
  • STAY AWAY from power lines and puddles with wires in them, they may be “live”.
  • DO NOT USE matches or lighters, in case of leaking gas pipes or fuel tanks.
  • REMAIN in position until “noise and high winds” have stopped.
  • DO NOT ENTER any building that is deemed or looks UNSAFE.


  • SEEK protective shelter immediately.
  • REMAIN indoors or under protective shelter until hail has stopped, usually 5-10 minutes.


If you hear thunder:

  • SEEK protective shelter immediately.
  • If OUTDOORS, DO NOT STAND underneath tall isolated objects. Avoid projecting above the surrounding landscape. Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. Avoid open areas and SEEK LOW AREAS such as a ravine or valley.
  • GET OFF or AWAY from OPEN WATER as well as metal equipment or small metal vehicles such as motorcycles, bicycles, golf carts, etc. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes and rails. If you are in a group in the open, spread out, keeping people several yards apart.
  • REMEMBER—lightning may strike some miles from the parent cloud. If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you. DROP TO YOUR KNEES and BEND FORWARD, putting your hands on your knees. DO NOT LIE FLAT on the ground.