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MidAmerican Energy News

Lightning Safety: What You Must Know to Stay Safe During a Storm

DES MOINES, Iowa – (June 18, 2015) – Summer is the peak season for lightning, which strikes the United States nearly 25 million times each year. The National Weather Service has designated the week of June 21-27 as National Lightning Safety Awareness Week to call attention to the dangers posed by lightning and the need to take precautions during thunderstorms. MidAmerican Energy Company encourages all customers to learn the warning signs of lightning and follow these guidelines to avoid being struck:

• If a storm is coming or already underway, take shelter indoors. Lightning often precedes rain, so don’t wait for raindrops to fall before heading indoors. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.

• Sitting on an open porch to watch thunderstorms is dangerous. Seek shelter in an interior room and stay away from windows and open doors.

• If you are outdoors away from home, stay near proper shelter – a large, enclosed building with conventional wiring and plumbing. Take shelter immediately and remain in the shelter for at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.

• Lightning can travel through wiring and water pipes. During storms stay away from bathtubs, sinks, corded phones and anything that uses electricity, such as TVs, computers and appliances. The wiring and metal bars inside concrete surfaces also can conduct lightning, so avoid contact with garage and basement flooring or walls.

• Protect your pets. A doghouse is not safe shelter from lightning. Dogs chained up outside or in fenced dog runs are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.

• If you cannot get into a building, your next best choice is a hardtop metal vehicle with the windows rolled up. Do not touch the vehicle frame, steering wheel, ignition, gearshift or radio until the storm has passed.

• If you are caught outdoors with no safe shelter nearby, the following actions may reduce your risk of being struck by lightning:

o Lightning is drawn to tall objects and metal, so avoid trees, canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or anything metal, such as flagpoles, light poles, bleachers, golf clubs or fences.
o Avoid rivers, lakes or swimming pools. If you are boating, head to shore.
o Avoid wide open areas, including sports fields.
o If you are outside, far from proper shelter, and the threat of lightning is imminent, the safest thing to do is move at least 15 feet away from other people, put your feet together, squat down, tuck your head and cover your ears. Do not lie down or put your hands or knees on the ground. When the immediate threat of lightning has passed, continue heading to the safest shelter.

These actions may lessen your risk of being struck by lightning, but there is truly no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. During Lightning Safety Awareness Week, the National Weather Service reminds you: “When thunder roars, go indoors!” For more information to help you and your family stay safe during summer storms, visit our Storm Center.

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company provides electric service to 746,000 customers and natural gas service to 726,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via MidAmerican Energy Company's website.