When thunder roars, go indoors: 12 people have now died from lightning in US this year

MADISON, Wis. — The deaths of three people, including a Janesville couple, from a lightning strike just steps from the White House on Thursday are bringing renewed attention to severe weather safety protocols.

The trio’s deaths bring the total number of people killed by lightning nationwide so far in 2022 to 12, according to data from the National Weather Service. In all of 2021, 11 people died from lightning strikes. Seventeen people died from lightning in 2020, and 21 people died in both 2019 and 2018.

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While most people will come in out of the rain, if there’s lightning but no rain some may decide to stay outside. That decision can be deadly.

An average of 20 people die each year from lightning; 90% of fatalities are men. Hundreds more people who are struck by lightning and survive, meanwhile, have permanent injuries.

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A good rule of thumb: when thunder roars, go indoors and wait 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before going back outside.

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If caught outdoors in a thunderstorm, people should avoid tall objects and metal conductors.

Standing under a tree is not safe; according to the National Weather Service, being under a tree is the second-leading cause of lightning deaths.

Lightning can pose a threat even if it’s not raining and can strike as far as 10 to 15 miles from a thunderstorm.

Lightning facts graphic

If indoors during a thunderstorm, avoid things that conduct electricity like appliances, computers, plumbing and metal doors and windows.

The last time someone died from lightning in Wisconsin was on August 24, 2021, when a 60-year-old man was killed on a construction site in Menomonie.

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