Ways to protect yourself from lightning when storms roll in

The summer heat is here and with it comes the start of the rainy season in the Sunshine State. 

With heavy rain, wild winds and dangerous lightning, the News Station is busting myths about storm safety.

These storms can be deadly. A bolt of lightning might beautifully light up the sky, but in the lightning capital of the world, these bolts are no joke. 

A helmet was burned and destroyed after lightning struck and killed Benjamin Austin Lee while riding his motorcycle on I-95 in Volusia County on Sunday.

“We’ll see a peak in calls when that weather rolls in. We get a lot of traffic crashes. We could have downed powerlines,” said Mike Jachles, spokesman for Orange County Fire Rescue.

Orange County Fire Rescue says the assumption that cars will protect you from lightning, or trees or staying low to the ground are all myths.

“That charge can be much more powerful than any tires or any car that you could be in. When thunder roars, go indoors. There’s really no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm,” Jachles said. 

If you’re driving, Jachles says pull over at a rest stop or store, and once you’re there, stay away from windows and outlets. 

“Do things like unplug your microwave before a storm. Anything that can send a surge through your electrical system could make its way to your appliances,” he said.

Even your plumbing can be a problem. 

“Even something like washing your hands, you could get shocked if there’s an electrical charge that comes through your home’s electrical system or plumbing,” Jachles said.

Because as we see in Florida all too often, man is no match for Mother Nature. 

“Even if you’re at the beach, 20 miles away out of a clear blue sky, a thunderstorm that far away can issue a lightning bolt that can kill,” said Keith Kotch, acting manager for Orange County Emergency Management.

Orange County Fire Rescue also suggests following the 30-30 rule. 

If you see lightning, count to 30. 

If you hear thunder within that time, get inside and stay there for 30 minutes.