Thunderstorms can not only cause serious damage to nature or buildings, they can also be dangerous for you. Here you can find out how to behave correctly during thunderstorms and which myths you shouldn’t believe. 

In Germany, an average of 110 people are struck by lightning every year. According to the VDE, the number of fatal lightning strikes is four per year. Although the number of fatalities is significantly lower, many survivors suffer serious physical and psychological injuries. It is therefore important to know where the dangers lie during thunderstorms and how to behave correctly. So do not get this bonus slip.

To better understand the dangers of a lightning strike, it is helpful to understand how lightning works: Lightning equalizes the voltage difference between thunderclouds and the earth’s surface. Lightning can strike with a good 100 million volts, which can have devastating consequences. This voltage decreases in a circle around the point of strike in the earth, meaning that even a strike a few meters away can still be dangerous.


As a precaution, you should unplug electrical appliances during thunderstorms. The right way to behave during a thunderstorm depends on whether you are indoors or outdoors. It also depends on whether your house has a lightning protection system or just a lightning rod. Below you will find tips on the correct behavior during thunderstorms.

How to behave indoors during a thunderstorm:

Seek shelter in buildings with a lightning rod or lightning protection system: You are safe from lightning strikes in buildings with lightning rods or, even better, with lightning protection systems. As a rule, almost all buildings today have lightning conductors or lightning protection systems.

Close windows and doors: Thunderstorms often bring heavy rain, hail and squalls with them. You should therefore bring movable objects inside from the balcony or terrace during thunderstorms and close all windows and doors.

Unplug all electrical appliances: Plugged-in electrical appliances such as PCs, televisions or kitchen appliances can be damaged by power surges during a thunderstorm. One way to prevent this is to install surge protection devices. However, if you do not have this type of surge protection or if there is a strong thunderstorm in the immediate vicinity, you should still unplug your electrical appliances, as damage can occur despite the surge protection.

 If you are outside:

Seek shelter in your car: A closed metal vehicle offers good protection even in the event of a direct lightning strike. The metal body forms a so-called Faraday cage and conducts the current directly into the ground. The same applies to airplanes and trains. But be careful with vehicles that are not made entirely of metal. Convertibles or motorhomes that do not have a metal roof frame are not safe even when the top is closed.

Squat down and put your feet close together. As the voltage spreads around the point of strike in the ground, there is still danger even if lightning strikes a few meters away. The current can still pass through your body via the ground – the decisive factor here is the so-called step voltage. This refers to the voltage difference that your legs exhibit when your feet are far apart, as the voltage decreases in a circle around the point of strike. You should therefore have as little contact surface with the ground as possible to keep the difference in tension as small as possible. It is therefore advisable to squat with your feet close together.

Keep your distance from other people. If you are traveling with a larger group, you should keep a sufficient distance from each other. And never touch each other. It is best to keep a distance of at least three meters so that a flash cannot jump over.

Take off your rucksack and do not touch any metal objects. Although metal objects do not attract lightning, they conduct it very well. If a metal object that you are touching is struck by lightning, you could suffer severe burns. Backpacks also often have an integrated metal frame for better carrying comfort.


In modern houses with plastic water pipes, showering during a thunderstorm is not a problem. In modern homes, showering or bathing during thunderstorms is generally not a problem. Because nowadays the water pipes are usually made of plastic and are therefore non-conductive. Even if the building has a lightning protection system in which all metal pipes are connected and earthed, there is no danger when showering. Even in old houses with metal water pipes.

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