Jun 29, 2017

Metro Manila is currently under thunderstorm watch and although basic thunderstorm safety is definitely worth noting, it might not be as commonly known as you think.

Yesterday, the state weather bureau issued a thunderstorm warning across National Capital Region and parts of Southern Luzon. The day before that, I was seated inside a fast-food place, waiting for the sudden downpour to stop, when lightning hit a nearby electric post, killing the power inside the restaurant and causing panic to spread. Some customers said it was a power surge, some swore it was lightning, and others said it could have been both.

I’ll tell you one thing: It was terrifying. There were a lot of sparks. There was thunder and screaming and running around, but it was obvious that a lot of people didn’t know what to do—myself included. In fact, I was frozen in my seat watching the electrical post go haywire from inside the restaurant. The electric post looked about ready to blow as I racked my brain for thunderstorm safety measures and realized that I knew none. So just in case it happens to you and there are no lightning arresters around, here are a few basic safety tips to keep in mind when a thunderstorm hits:

nolisoli fixture news weather thunderstorm lightning
Photo courtesy of Breno Machado on Unsplash

Stay indoors
According to Jaime Bordales Jr., weather forecaster for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the safest place to be when lightning and thunder are present is indoors. If you’re outdoors, it would be best to find shelter just until it’s safe to step outside again (which is about 30 to 45 minutes after the thunderstorm ceases). Also, stay indoors, but away from glass because the material is easily shattered by lightning.

Avoid heights
Bordales says that high areas are more prone to lightning strikes, so the higher you are, the greater the risk of getting struck by lightning. If you’re on elevated ground, transfer to somewhere lower. If you’re in a building, make sure you’re staying on the lower floors. If you’re outside, avoid tall objects. Stay away from trees and posts.

If all else fails, squat
We were taught to duck or drop, cover, and hold in case of an earthquake. In the presence of a thunderstorm, we’re actually supposed to assume the “lightning squat” position. This is especially applicable if you’re outdoors with nowhere else to go. The idea is to place your hands over your ears, fold yourself into the size of a child, and crouch the lowest you can go.

TAGS: disaster preparedness lightning rain Safety safety tips thunderstorm weather