Even with all the survival skills I’ve practiced and supplies I’ve gathered, I still feel out of my depth when it comes to dangerous weather. Something as ordinary as a strong local thunderstorm can pelt my vehicles and house with destructive hail, set my home aflame with lightning, and send my lawn gnomes crashing into my bird bath with strong winds. Extreme weather is the great equalizer in the realm of survival. It lays low kings and paupers alike, the prepared and unprepared as well. Will you know what to do when the weather turns against you? Take our dangerous weather quiz and find out.
Lightning can’t strike you in a car
False. We’ve all heard that a vehicle’s rubber tires will protect the occupants from lightning, as long as they’re not touching metal parts inside the vehicle, but people have died from lightning strikes to vehicles, even if they weren’t touching conductive surfaces. Electrocution can occur inside any vehicle that has been struck. Lightning causes 55 to 60 deaths and 400 injuries each year in the United States. And lighting accompanies every single thunderstorm. Sure, you are safer in a vehicle than being caught out in the open, but you’ll be much safer indoors—if that’s an option.
Hailstones have actually killed people
True. Sad but true, hail has been the cause of many storm-related deaths through the years. The strangest recorded case occurred in 1360, on a day that became known as “Black Monday.” A hail storm killed approximately 1,000 English soldiers and hundreds of horses that were stationed near Paris, France, during the Hundred Years’ War.
These days, it’s safe to use a corded telephone or run water during a thunderstorm
False. All thunderstorms have lightning, whether you see it or not. The electrical wiring and any metal piping do offer a grounding effect to homes and businesses in the event of a lightning strike, protecting the structure—but not someone touching those items. Stay away from conductive things like wiring, corded telephones, plumbing pipes, and fixtures during a storm. Continue to avoid these items for 30 minutes after the storm, in case of lingering lightning.
Flooding is the main cause of death in thunderstorms, not lightning
True. Flooding is the chief cause of death associated with thunderstorms, accounting for more than 90 fatalities each year in the U.S. More than half of those losses occur when vehicles are driven into dangerous flood waters, especially at night when visibility is hampered. Just two feet of fast moving water can sweep away most vehicles, even SUVs and trucks.
Mudslides are typically localized, and rarely affect a large area
False. Mudslides, also known as mudflows, typically occur when unusually heavy rains or a sudden thaw loosens the soil and mud, releasing a flow of material that can bury homes, roads, vehicles and people. These events can be very small, or massive, like the 1999 Vargas, Venezuela mudflow, which changed the shape of more than 37 miles of coastline and killed between 10,000 and 30,000 people.