Thunderstorms can develop quickly, and knowing what to do and where to go can help you avoid dangerous lighting strikes. June 18 is Wisconsin Lightning Safety Awareness Day, and ReadyWisconsin encourages everyone to learn how to protect themselves while spending time outdoors

“Even if the sky directly overhead may be clear, lightning can travel several miles from the center of a storm,” warned Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Greg Engle. “If thunder can be heard, lightning is close enough to strike nearby and the safest thing to do is it to head indoors.”

According to the National Lightning Safety Council, 14 people were killed by lightning in the United States and its territories in 2023. At least one person was killed by a lightning strike in the U.S. so far this year. Since 2003, there have been 10 lightning-related deaths in Wisconsin. There were none reported in the state last year.

During a thunderstorm, the safest place to seek shelter is inside a sturdy, enclosed structure, such as a house. Get out of open areas and stay away from bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers. Never take cover under a tree. If you are inside a vehicle, avoid touching metal surfaces.

When planning outdoor activities during the summer months, pay attention to the forecast for your area. If there are thunderstorms, plan for what you will do if lightning is spotted in the area. Know where you can seek shelter nearby or if you will have to leave because no shelter is available.

Even while indoors, you should take steps to protect yourself during a thunderstorm. Avoid contact with anything connected to an electrical outlet, along with water or plumbing. Stay away from windows and doors. Wait at least 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder before heading back outdoors.

If a person is struck by lightning, immediately dial 911. Start CPR if you are trained and certified. Do not be afraid to touch the victim – the human body does not hold an electrical charge.

For more information on lightning safety, visit ReadyWisconsin at You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook, X, and Instagram.