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Lightning is one of the most dangerous natural disasters out there. It can kill you instantly, cause permanent injury, or even start a fire. Many people find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere during a thunderstorm.
If you are unfortunate enough to be caught in one of these storms, you must know what to do. We will discuss safety precautions when driving during a thunderstorm and how they can help keep you safe from harm!
How to Drive Safely in a Thunderstorm?
1. Pull Over to a Safe Location
If you can stop somewhere safe, don't think twice about it. As we all know that when the wind is strong, there may be some debris flying around, so be sure to pull off the road and park in an area that isn't going to have anything flying at your car. Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry!
2. Turn Your Hazard Lights
It would help if you turned on your hazard lights so other drivers would see them and know there may be something wrong with your vehicle or you have pulled off to safety.
3. Slow Down
When visibility is low, and the roads are wet, it's essential to slow down. This will help you avoid hydroplaning and keep yourself safe on the road.
4. Clear the Dashboard and Floor
Put away anything lying on the dashboard, such as sunglasses or your cell phone. This prevents anything from flying off and hitting you while driving during a thunderstorm which can be extremely dangerous. Also, mop up water on your car's floor, so you don't slip getting in and out if it's raining heavily!
5. Stay Inside and Be Alert
This means avoiding standing near windows or doorways that could get struck by lightning. If you are driving, make sure to pull over as soon as possible and wait out the storm in a safe place! Avoid going outside whatever happens.
6. Stay Away from Underpasses or Overpasses
If you're caught in heavy rain, one safety precaution that you should take is staying away from underpasses or overpasses as much as possible. These areas can quickly fill up with water and create dangerous conditions.
7. Avoid Using Cellphone When Driving
When the weather conditions are bad, it's easy for accidents to happen due to inattentiveness or distractions. Also, remember that cell phones are also a conductor of electricity, so if you are struck by lightning while using one, it will only worsen the situation.
8. Don't Drive Through Water
Do not try to drive through large puddles of water because cars can easily get swept away by strong currents created from runoff flowing into these areas. So don't do this!
9. Avoid Touching Any Metal
Avoid touching anything metal outside the car because lightning can readily travel through these objects and cause a big problem. Many situations have arisen where lightning strikes people after touching something metal, so it's essential to be aware and alert and take the necessary precautions.
10. Keep Your Phone Charged and Ready
Texting while driving where there is a likelihood of getting hit by lightning is not a good idea. If possible, avoid using your phone until the storm has passed.
11. Avoid Parking Under Tree
If you have no place to go when caught outside in one of these storms, make sure your car is parked under something sturdy instead of out in the open where branches or other objects are hanging above! This way, if lightning strikes nearby, it will have a harder time reaching you.
12. Watch Out for Flooding
If you come across a flooded roadway, make sure to turn around and find an alternate route. It's not worth risking your safety trying to drive through floodwaters! Floods can easily cause your car to stall or, worse yet, float away.
13. Be Aware
If you notice a strong smell or hear any noises while inside your vehicle, stop and exit as soon as safety allows it. While the weather and situations you may face in a thunderstorm may vary depending on your location and the time of year, some of the weather and problems you may encounter include:
- Rainfall ranges from light to heavy.
- Thunder and lightning are frequent.
- Strong winds are expected.
- Thunderstorms are intimately related to the weather.
- Road conditions that have been impacted.
14. Keep Your Windows Rolled Up
Ensure all the windows are rolled up before you start driving in a thunderstorm, especially if it's raining hard. This way, there is no chance for water to get into the vehicle and potentially electrocute anyone inside! A small amount of water on control panels can be enough to send an electric shock to the driver and passengers.
15. Stay Away From Broken Powerlines
If you see any downed or broken power lines, get your car away from the area as quickly as possible so that nothing happens, such as getting struck by lightning.
16. Watch Out for Hydroplaning
When the rain is heavy, there is always a risk of hydroplaning. When this happens, your car can start to slide on the water on the road. To prevent this, be sure to drive slowly and keep more space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
17. Keep Your Distance
Another thing to remember when driving during a thunderstorm is that your visibility may be reduced. So always keep your distance to avoid bumping into other vehicles.
What to Expect During Thunderstorms?
Some people believe that preparing for the worst will protect you from danger. However, you might be wondering how. It's as easy as that! Consider yourself on the road during a storm. Here are what should you expect when driving during a thunderstorm?
- Poor Visibility - When driving during thunderstorms, it will become hard for you to see things clearly since rain can affect visibility on both sides- inside and out! Be extra cautious when driving during a thunderstorm because this condition can cause a driver to lose control of the car.
- Hydroplaning - Another thing you need to watch out for is hydroplaning. When your car tires come into contact with water, it creates a thin film of water between the tire and the road surface. If this layer becomes too thick, your tires will ride on top of the water, and you will lose all control of your car.
- Road Accidents - Car accidents are also prevalent during a thunderstorm. When visibility is poor, you will hardly see other vehicles in front of you, so make sure you keep distance at least 1 to 3 seconds between your car and the next.
- Broken Tree Branches - During thunderstorms, the chances are high that trees may get struck by lightning which will cause the branches to fall off. So make sure you do not park near a tree, or one of its branches might come crashing down on your car!
What to Check Before Leaving?
In principle, you should inspect your vehicle before every drive, but many drivers fail to do so. However, if you're driving in a thunderstorm, you and other drivers will need to respond fast, and a failing component of the vehicle might result in a fatality. Ensure that all of the following are functioning and in excellent working condition before driving; otherwise, do not drive.
- Oil and antifreeze levels
- Windshield wipers
- Headlights and taillights
- Ensure you have insurance paperwork and your license with you
Driving during a thunderstorm is not safe. Be safety conscious and avoid driving during a dangerous thunderstorm. Pullover immediately and let it pass if you find yourself on the road. It is best to be safe than sorry!