You are at an outdoor art fair when a band of thunderstorms rolls in. What do you do? 

The National Weather Service says that there is little you can do to substantially reduce your risk of being struck by lightning if you are outside. The only safe action is to get to a safe building or vehicle as quickly as possible after you first hear thunder, and stay there for 30 minutes after the storm has ended.

  • Safe buildings: fully-enclosed building with plumbing or wiring such as a home, school, office building, shopping center

  • Stay away from: corded telephones, electronic equipment, computers, showers, sinks, bathtubs – anything that can transmit electricity from a nearby lightning strike

  • Unsafe buildings: tents, picnic shelters, sheds, open garages, covered patios

  • Safe vehicles: fully-enclosed metal vehicles such as hard-topped cars, vans, trucks.  Do not touch metal surfaces or use electronic equipment while inside

  • Unsafe vehicles: convertibles, golf carts, open cab construction equipment, boats without cabins

At an arts fair, you should at least be able to get to a safe vehicle. The National Weather Service has recommendations on what to do if you cannot get to a safe shelter, but these only slightly improve your chances. There is no truly safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm!

Related topic:

Lightning strikes are tough on sensitive computer equipment. The Studio Protector Blog has a post on what one artist did to protect his equipment on his studio/home computer network.