Severe Weather / Lightning
Severe Thunderstorms and Lightning
Did you know that lightning kills more people on average each year
than hurricanes and tornadoes combined? Lightning can strike up to 10
miles away from a rain area.
The 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule:
During thunderstorms no place
outside is safe but you can minimize your risk by assessing the
lightning threat and taking the appropriate actions. Count the number of
seconds from when you see the lightning flash until you hear the
thunder. If you count 30 seconds or less you are in immediate danger.
Even if you can't see the lightning, just hearing the thunder means
lightning is likely within striking range.
If you are caught outdoors in a severe thunderstorm or when lightning
- Immediately seek shelter in a substantial building.
- DO NOT seek shelter under trees during thunderstorms.
- DO NOT seek shelter in unprotected open structures such as picnic
pavilions, rain shelters or bus stops.
- If a substantial building is not available, a metal-topped vehicle
with the windows up is your next best choice.
- Avoid contact with metal fences, metal bleachers, or metallic
- Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Use phones
ONLY in an emergency.
- Do not take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm.
- Wait 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving
the safe location
If Caught Outdoors and No Shelter Is Nearby:
- Find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles that is not
subject to flooding.
- If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to
the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears
and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target
possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie down. If
you are swimming, get out of the water immediately.
REMEMBER: If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by
Once you have taken shelter indoors, you should monitor a weather
radio, commercial radio/television station, internet or other weather
service provider. Even when a specific storm cell has passed beyond the
area, conditions may still be right for high winds, lightning, and other
hazardous weather conditions.
To contact the Vanderbilt University Police Department in an emergency:
- Call 911 from any campus phone.
- Call (615) 322-2222 from any other phone.
See also the Tornado
VU Emergency Guide, the
Vanderbilt Severe Weather Warning System, and Severe Weather
Evacuation - General
Evacuation - Disabilities
Shelter in Place
Hazardous Materials Spill
to these Security guides requires
login with VUNet ID & e-password.)
Medical Center students, staff and faculty should also refer to the
VUMC Emergency Response Quick Reference Guide
and the VUMC
Safety & Emergency Operations Manual.