Lightning strikes kill an average of 30 Americans a year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The National Weather Service (NWS) estimates that 252 annually get severely injured, often experiencing debilitating side effects for life, such as intense pain, neurological disabilities and depression.

The best prevention against a strike is to go inside at the first sound of thunder. As the NWS says, “When thunder roars, go indoors. Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach.”

If you work outside, or play outdoor sports, like a golfer who will be out on the course for many hours at a time, it’s especially important to know what to do to lessen your chances of getting injured by a lightning strike. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the NWS, you’ll want to:

  • Check the weather forecast ahead of time. If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity.
  • Follow the 30-30 rule. When you see lightning, count to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors without delay, even when this means stopping your sports event.
  • Head to a fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing. Do not stay in a ballpark’s dugouts, in a tent, or covered picnic shelter or similar structures. These do not provide protection from lightning strikes.
  • If you can’t seek shelter indoors, then get into a hard-topped metal vehicle and keep the windows closed. The metal roof and sides will help to protect you (not the tires) by dissipating the lightning to the ground. Convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning, warns the NWS. Also, don’t lean on a metal vehicle during a thunderstorm.
  • Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
  • If you get caught out in the storm, do not crouch and wait out the storm. Instead, keep hurriedly heading toward shelter.

Once inside, the CDC advises you to stay away from concrete floors or walls because lightning can travel through the concrete’s metal wires/bars. Stay away from windows. Avoid turning on water or taking a shower during a thunderstorm because lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing. Avoid touching electronic equipment, like TVs, appliances and computers, as lightning can travel through the electrical wiring. Also, avoid corded phones for the same reason (but you can use cordless or cellular phones).

If someone gets struck by lightning, call 911 and begin CPR if the heart has stopped. Touching them will not electrocute you, according to the NWS.

As fun as it may be to experience the fury of big storms, remember to always seek shelter at the first sound of thunder. It’s the smartest way to stay safe.