Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring at any moment around the world.

Thunderstorms affect relatively small areas when compared with hurricanes and winter storms. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Despite their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous.

Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which, on an average, kills 93 people in the U.S. and injures 300 others each year. People are at the greatest risk outdoors.

Here are some specific tips on how to protect yourself from the dangers associated with thunderstorms and lightning:

  1. If you plan to be outdoors, check the weather forecast and watch for signs of a storm. Be prepared to take shelter; lightning may strike some miles from the parent cloud.

  2. If you are caught outside, do not stand under the tallest object in the landscape. If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. In open areas, go to a low place, such as a ravine or valley.

  3. Get off or away from open water, tractors, and other metal farm equipment or small metal vehicles. Put down anything metal that you are holding and stay away from anything that is wire or metal. If you are in a group in the open, stay several yards apart.

  4. If you are caught on a level field far from shelter, and you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

  5. At home, do not use the telephone except in emergencies. Unplug unnecessary appliances. Do not take a bath or shower.

  6. Prepare for a power outage by locating flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and batteries. Stay tuned to your local radio station for more information about the storm.

  7. Consider any downed power lines as deadly dangerous -- don't go near them. Report them immediately to your electric co-op.