Thunderstorms struck across the south east London and Kent last night and there are more on the way, according to forecasters.

News Shopper: Thunder Bromley

Everyone knows how dangerous lightning can be – last year our cousins over the Atlantic lost 23 people as a direct result of being struck, and that was their lowest ever – but not everyone knows how to stay safe in a storm.

In England, up to 60 people are struck each year and between five and 10 per cent are fatal.


Here are some tips, based on advice from the Met Office and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents:

News Shopper: Barnehurst lightning
Picture by Bradley Bird

  • Head inside (a large, enclosed building is best)
  • A car is quite safe as the lightning will spread over the metal and ground through the tyres.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are already in range of where lightning can strike as the bolts can land as far as 10 miles from the centre of a storm
  • If the flash to bang is less than three seconds the storm is within a kilometre and you really should be inside
  • Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder
  • Lightning can strike in the same place twice
  • Lightning does not always strike the tallest object
  • Unplug non-essential electrical items. You don’t want a power surge
  • Avoid using the landline phone – the lines can conduct electricity
  • Try not to use taps or the sink
  • If you are outside, steer clear of water or activities like golf or fishing
  • Find somewhere low-lying, AWAY from trees, poles or metal objects
  • If you find yourself exposed: squat to the ground with your hands on your knees and head tucked between them so you are as small as possible. Try to touch as little of the ground as possible – definitely don’t lie down
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, drop to the position immediately – lightning may be about to strike