Don’t Get Struck: Lightning Safety for Travelers

Did you know lightning strikes the Earth about 20 million times in a year? On average, lightning strikes 58 people each year.

Even those who survive lightning strikes do not always recover completely from their injuries. Neurological complications and muscle loss are common long-term effects of lightning strikes. A victim’s lung capacity is also known to decrease substantially.

The saying “prevention is better than the cure” applies perfectly to lightning strikes. Read on to learn the proper safety measures to take when there’s a lightning storm.

Get Indoors ASAP

There’s no place safer than indoors during a lightning storm.

Even when you’re indoors, stay away from wired electrical devices, doors, and windows. Turn off appliances to protect them from voltage surges.

Bring any outdoor pets inside the house. Doghouses aren’t substantial enough to keep your furry friend safe.

If you live in a lightning-prone area, get a professionally installed lightning protection system. There’s no better shelter than that.

Cars Work In a Pinch

If you can’t get yourself inside a building, a car is the next best place. Since it is a metal exterior, it disperses the electricity to the ground. So, you will be relatively safe inside a car.

Many people say that rubber tires are what prevent electricity from getting grounded. But, that is not the case. It’s actually the metal body that protects you. Beware that this is a standalone case. In all other circumstances, metal and electricity should not be mixed.

Memorize This: “Trees Aren’t Good Shelters”

Trees are outdoors, and being outdoors is the worst place to be in a lightning storm. So, it’s common sense that trees don’t make for safe shelters.

If you didn’t know already, lightning is more likely to strike tall objects. Since trees are typically taller than humans, you are increasing your chances of getting in harm’s way.

Plus, even if the lightning misses you but hits the tree, the electricity will reach the ground. This means the area near the tree will be charged, and you’ll be in the danger zone.

The average lightning bolt has the power of 300 million volts of electricity. Lightning can split – or even shatter – very large trees. You don’t want to be anywhere in the vicinity if that happens. A large falling branch can obviously be deadly.

Go Inside Even If the Thunder Is Far Away

Many people assume that lightning is only a danger if they hear thunder close by. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Lightning can travel 10-12 miles from the thunderstorm. So, even if you don’t see rain clouds, you are in a hazard zone.

At the first crack of thunder, head to the nearest shelter. The quicker you do it, the better.

Follow the 30-30 Rule

The 30-30 rule is a simple two-step instruction to follow to keep you safe from lightning.

  1. If you see lightning, count to 30. If you hear thunder before you get to 30, make a run for it. Get inside because lightning is a threat.
  2. After the thunderstorm is over, wait 30 minutes before you head outside. There is still a risk for a short time.

Have a Financial Safety Net

There is no surefire way of protecting yourself from a lightning strike. Though the odds are incredibly low, there is still a chance. This is why you must buy insurance before your trip.

Being struck warrants an immediate trip to the emergency room, and there is a pretty lengthy recovery period. Having travel medical insurance that covers emergency medical situations that arise while you’re traveling abroad is essential. It can help mitigate the high cost of emergency medical treatment while you’re in another country.

You can compare plans and costs on Insubuy, and choose the best one for your needs. Insubuy’s customer support has a stellar reputation for assisting travelers in finding the right plan. Once you identify the right plan, you can buy it online on their website.

Stay Away from Water

You surely would’ve read about this in school; water is an excellent conductor of electricity. So, that’s exactly where you don’t to be when a lightning storm is about to hit.

If you’re taking a beach vacation, even the wet sand is a potential threat. Get away from any water source as soon as you can. If you’ve got belongings strewn about, don’t take the time to pick them up. They can be replaced.

Get yourself inside a place with a roof and wait out the storm.

Even if you are indoors, avoid contact with water. Lightning strikes are known to pass through plumbing. Your shower can wait until after the storm.

An Open Shelter Is Not a Shelter

People often think that tents or gazebos are good enough shelters for a lightning storm. They are actually worse than open spaces. These structures are often made with metal poles or supports. As we all know, metal is an excellent conductor of electricity.

So, if you can, always get to a place with four walls and a roof. If you can’t do that, get in your car.

If you’re In A Group, Split Up

If lightning hits the ground, the ground gets charged up with electricity. It has the potential to shock the whole group if you’re close by.

If you split up, the number of injuries can be reduced even if lightning strikes near you. So, split up as you’re running to shelter.

Beware Of Hail

Whenever there is a strong thunderstorm, there is a chance of hail. Hail can range from being dime-sized to even softball-sized and it can weigh up to 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilograms).

If it does start to hail, take cover immediately. Do not go outside to inspect the hailstones, and be sure to bring your pets inside with you as well.

Don’t Lie Down

It is a wide belief that only tall objects are struck by lightning. While there is a greater chance that lightning will strike the Empire State Building standing at 1,454 feet, that doesn’t mean you’re in the all-clear.

Using the logic that being shorter guarantees safety from lightning, many people lie down during a lightning storm. This actually increases the surface area in which lightning can hit you. You’re not doing yourself any favors by lying down.

Though the odds of being struck by lightning are one in 13,000, it’s possible nonetheless. These measures can help keep you as safe as possible. If you have young children, remember to teach them what to do. 

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?


For visitors, travel, student and other international travel medical insurance.

Visit or call +1 (866) INSUBUY or +1 (972) 985-4400