ALL thunderstorms pose a LIGHTNING THREAT! If you can hear thunder, the storm is close enough to be a threat! Lightning can strike over 10 miles from a storm before or after it passes!

Always use the 30/30 rule. If you see lightning, then hear thunder less than thirty seconds later, the storm is definitely close enough to be dangerous. After the storm passes, wait thirty minutes after seeing the last lightning or hearing the last thunder before you go outside. Here are some steps to take when storms move in...

1. If you're at home, go inside when you hear thunder and:
• Stay off the phone; nearby lightning strikes can electrify phonelines.
• Don't get in the shower, bath or use the sink. Lightning can hit the ground and energize the pipes!
• Stay away from appliances.
• For your computer's sake, unplug it from the wall and phoneline.

2. If you're caught outside, away from a sturdy building, the safest place to be is in a car, but don't lean against the doors. Sit in the seat with your hands in your lap. Contrary to common belief, cars aren't safe because "the rubber tires insulate you from the ground." They're safe because lightning dissipates over the metal skin of the car.

If you can't get in a car, get away from trees, power poles and other tall objects. Go downhill to the lowest spot you can get. Squat down on the balls of your feet to stay low and make as little contact with the ground as possible.

North Carolina almost always ranks in the top 5 states in the country for lightning deaths and injuries every year and was number 2 in lightning deaths for the years 1959-1995.

Get more interesting, important and lifesaving lightning information for Lightning Safety Awareness Week HERE. The National Weather Service has put together an excellent presentation for every day of the week.

Public TV has another GREAT lightning site here!