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Thunderstorms and Lightning


Cumberland County has seen its share of lightning strikes, resulting in fires and fatalities. People's reactions to lightning and thunderstorms drive home the point that lightning is still one of the most underrated natural hazards that occur. North Carolina ranks second in the nation in annual lightning fatalities, mainly due to the high incidence of recreational activities we enjoy in this great state.

There are guidelines that can help you keep yourself and those around you safe . When thunderstorms threaten your area, seek shelter inside a home, large building, or motor vehicle. If you are inside building, avoid use of the telephone except in emergencies, and by all means stay away from bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks because metal pipes can conduct electricity.

If you are outside and are unable to reach a safe area, please follow these rules:

  • Get away from anything metal - golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, motorcycles, farm equipment.
  • Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, rails, and other metallic paths which could carry lightning to you from a distance.
  • In open areas, avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall isolated tree or small structure.
  • Do not stand on a hilltop, in an open field, on the beach, or in a boat on the water. Stay away from open water.
  • If you find yourself in an open area, go to the lowest piece of ground available, but be alert for flash flooding.
  • If you find yourself isolated in an open area and you feel your hair stand on end (indicates lightning is about to strike), drop to your knees and bend forward putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.
  • If you find yourself in the woods, seek shelter in a low area and under a thick growth of small trees.
  • Don't use the telephone during the storm - lightning may strike telephone lines outside.
  • Get out of the water and off small boats.
  • Stay in your automobile if you are traveling. Automobiles offer excellent lightning protection.
  • Don't use plug-in electrical equipment like hair dryers, electric tooth brushes, or electric razors during the storm.
  • Stay away from open doors and windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and plug-in electrical appliances.
  • Stop tractor work, especially when the tractor is pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are often struck by lightning.

Lightning has always been and will always be with us. Remember that thunderstorms are a dangerous natural occurrence and react appropriately. Awareness is a very important part of enjoying life to its fullest, so be careful out there.

Source: Are You Ready?: Guide to Disaster Preparedness, FEMA, September 1993, revised.

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Cumberland County, NC.
All Rights Reserved.
County Courthouse
117 Dick Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301