Alert today, alive tomorrow

Thunderstorm Guidelines

The phenomenon explained

What's a Thunder storm ?

A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm or a lightning storm, is a storm characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the earth’s atmosphere, known as thunder.

Relatively weak thunderstorms are sometimes called thundershowers. Thunderstorms occur in a type of cloud known as a cumulonimbus. They are usually accompanied by strong winds and often produce heavy rain. 

Nevertheless, thunderstorms take countless lives and material damage every year. In these guidelines, you can learn all the do’s and don’ts to keep yourself and others safe, as well as your electrical equipment.

It’s all about taken the right precautions and to learn to measure the time between light and thunder.


Knowing what to do

It's all about precautions & measuring time
Thunderstorm Guidelines

The importance of measuring Time

The time between seeing a lightning flash and hearing the thunder it produces, is a rough guide how far away the lightning was.

Normally, thunder can be heard up to 10 miles from the lightning that makes it. Lightning heats the air around it to as much as 60,000 degrees, producing sound waves by the quick expansion of the heated air.

Since light travels at 186,000 miles per second, you see the lightning the instant it flashes. But sound, including thunder, travels about a mile in five seconds near the ground.

So if 15 seconds elapse between seeing a lightning bolt and hearing its thunder, the lightning was about three miles away. Lightning closer than about three miles away is a warning to take precautions immediately.

Because lighting strikes are often two to three miles apart, measuring the first strike is three miles away, the next one could already hit your place.

Therefore, counting the seconds between the lightning flash and the thunder is very important!

Precautions to take

Most houses in Africa are not equipped to deal with lightning and thunder. So if you are still out of the 15 seconds range, unplug every electric equipment you have from the contacts. Television, sound systems, routers, freezers and so on. But DON’T touch any electric equipment during the thunderstorm. Thousands of people died of it every year.

Never stand under a tall or short tree or other stand-alone places when a thunderstorm breaks out. They attract lightning since lightning is looking for the shortest range for impact. They provide no protection and are very dangerous.

Thunderstorms come often with rain, so it is natural people look for shelter to stay dry, but think twice !
If you are in an open field with a group and surprised by a thunderstorm, spread out from each other at least 30 meters.

Get ready for impact if the lightning is near close. Get rid immediately of all metal on your body. Bags, jewelry, watches and so on. Try to squat down, with head on your chest and cover your ears with your hands for the noise. And close your eyes for the flashes which can make you temporary blind. It is a very difficult position, but DON’T lie down flat on the ground or keep on standing in full lenght.

Avoid being close to power lines as they’re both excellent conductors of electricity and could potentially cause death, if not serious injury.

Stay out of the bathtub or shower, and avoid swimming pools or swimming in other waters like the ocean or rivers. Water is a extremely dangerous conductor, even when you are fishing and sitting along the river.

Stay away from windows, and when you are in a car don’t touch any metal parts. Do not lay down on concrete floors. Most concrete has a wire metal mesh which can conduct electricity coming from the thunderstorm.

Last but not least, thunderstorms can be very scary for children and animals. Try to comfort them and follow the same procedures.


For those who never experienced a thunderstrike at close range, please watch this video

(Warning: This video can be scary for little children)
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