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Emergency Management Organization
Disaster Response: What to do During a Lightning Storm

Lightning storms are a common natural phenomenon in Nova Scotia. When severe lightning storms strike, they can be accompanied by high winds and heavy rain. To estimate how far away lightning is, count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap. Each second is about 300 metres. If you count fewer than five (5) seconds, take shelter immediately because lightning is near.

Lightning strikes the earth approximately 100 times per second which adds up to about 8,640,000 times per day. That represents approximately 4 billion kilowatts of continuous energy. According to the Environment Canada, it is estimated that each year on average in Canada there are between nine and 10 lightning related deaths and up to 164 lightning-related injuries.

If you are inside:

  • Stay inside.
  • Monitor local radio stations.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, sinks, bathtubs, plugged-in appliances, metal pipes, telephones and other materials that conduct electricity.
  • Unplug radios, televisions and other electrical appliances. Lightning can follow wires leading to electrical equipment.
  • Do not go outside to remove laundry from the clothesline as clotheslines can conduct electricity.
  • Do not use a phone unless it is a cellular phone.

If you are outside:

  • Take shelter in a building or in a low-lying or depressed area such as a ditch or culvert. Never take shelter under a tree.
  • If you are caught in the open, crouch down with your feet close together and your head down. Do not lie flat on the ground. By minimizing your contact with the ground, your reduce the risk of being electrocuted by a ground charge.
  • If swimming or in a boat, get back to shore immediately.
  • Keep away from power lines, fences, trees and hilltops.
  • Get off bicycles, motorcycles and tractors. Do not use metal shovels or golf clubs. All of these things conduct electricity.
  • If you are driving, stop the car and stay in it. Do not stop near trees or power lines as they could fall on you.