Thunderstorms and Lighting

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Public Safety

Public Safety

Thunderstorms and Lighting

Thunderstorms can produce flash flooding, destructive winds, and lightning.  In the U.S. lightning typically kills more people than tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Monitor weather forecasts and prepare to take protective actions when thunderstorms are expected.

When outdoors during a thunderstorm:

  • Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area where it is raining. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately inside an enclosed building that has electrical service or plumbing (which provide electrical grounding) or an enclosed motor vehicle.  WHEN THUNDER ROARS-'GET INDOORS!
  • When conducting outdoor activities have a plan on how you will respond to a thunderstorm.  Know where you will shelter if a thunderstorm occurs.  Stop your activities at the first sound of thunder and move to your shelter.  
  • During a thunderstorm avoid low lying areas that are prone to flash flooding such as drainage areas, rivers, and streams.  
  • If you outdoors in a forested area and a structure or motor vehicle is not available, take shelter under a thick growth of small trees.  Never stand under a tall, isolated tree.
  • When outdoors during a thunderstorm, avoid the tops of hills and ridgelines.  Seek shelter somewhere downslope or in a valley, but avoid areas prone to flash floods.
  • Avoid open areas such as fields and beaches during a thunderstorm. 
  • If on the water and a thunderstorm threatens: get out of the water.  If aboard a boat and you cannot reach shore quickly, go into an enclosed cabin or lie low as possible inside the boat.
  • Feeling your hair stand on end during a thunderstorm means that lightning is about to strike nearby.  Do not lie down on the ground (this places much of your body in contact with the ground and increase your chance of being badly shocked if lightning hits the ground nearby).  Instead, squat on the balls of your feet, place your hands over your ears, and tuck your head between your knees.  This limits the surface area of your body touching the ground.

When indoors during a thunderstorm:

  • Do not shower or bathe. Stay away from pools (indoor or outdoor), tubs, showers, and other plumbing.  Use ground fault protectors on circuits near water.
  • Stay off corded telephones, computers, and other electrical equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity.  Use surge protectors for important electronics. 
  • Unplug electronics and turn off air conditioners.
  • Stay away from windows and do not stay out on unenclosed porches or patios.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before going back outside.

Helping a lightning strike victim:

Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. 

Call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) if one is available. 

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Emergency Phone Numbers 

  • Campus phone X3333
    Non campus or from cell phone 212-678-3333

Public Safety Alerts


Non-emergency College Services

  • TC PS Non emergency 3220
  • TC PS Administrative Office 3111
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  • Barnard College  212-854-3362  
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  • CU Medical Center 212-305-8100