Health Watch -- April Storms

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

April showers bring May flowers. They also bring thunderstorms and severe weather.

There's a good reason we use being struck by lightning as a way to describe a slight risk. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you can lower your chances by taking some precautions.

The best place to be in an electrical storm is inside a building or car. If you're caught outside when a storm hits, avoid tall objects that might conduct electricity, such as flagpoles, fences or trees. Crouch in a dry ditch or any other low-lying area. A ditch filled with water could conduct electricity. During an electrical storm, avoid using the telephone or other electrical appliances.

If you live in a part of the country that experiences severe weather like thunderstorms or tornados, it's best to be prepared. Have a radio that runs on batteries and a good supply of batteries so you can track weather reports even if the power goes out. Monitor weather coverage when there's a storm brewing so you can take action to protect your family. Have a plan of where to go for shelter if a storm hits. You're usually safest in a basement or a small, interior room like a bathroom. Stay away from windows because flying glass can cause injuries. Cover up with a mattress or heavy blanket.

Seek shelter when a warning is given for your area. New technology makes it easier to predict and track tornados in time to take cover, but it doesn't do any good if you don't heed the warning.


March 2004