For years, climate experts have been warning of increasingly extreme weather events such as thunderstorms, hailstorms or even tornadoes. Hence, you should know how to protect yourself effectively. Together with the German Weather Service, we will give you the best tips on how to do this.
Offenbach (dpa / tmn) – Countless thunderstorms hit us every year – you take them off and go on leisurely strolls or continue your bike tour. But Andreas Friedrich from German Weather Service (DWD) emphasizes: “In thunderstorms there is always danger to life, because every lightning bolt can be fatal.”
Safe in thunderstorms: you have to pay attention to this
How do I behave when I am walking, cycling or riding a motorcycle? If you no longer manage to retreat into a building, you need a hollow, i.e. a recess in the terrain. “You should move away from trees because they are also dangerous when lightning strikes,” explains Friedrich. “If you found a hollow, I would still do that bicycle Put it a few meters away and also put down a backpack with any metallic objects and position it away, “adds the DWD press spokesman.
The same goes for a motorcycle. Because metal can conduct the energy of lightning. “Then crouch down in this hollow if possible with your feet close together,” says Friedrich. “At least that way you have the chance that you are not so exposed and endangered to lightning.”
It is best to find out about possible severe weather warnings in advance with the Katwarn-App.
Being quick saves lives
How much time do I have to look for such a place? “There is this golden rule where you count to three,” explains Friedrich. When you see lightning, you start counting. If you only get to three until it thunders, then the thunderstorm is less than a kilometer away. “Then it will definitely be dangerous.”
Would it be an option to drive into a forest? “No, the forest is always bad,” emphasizes Friedrich. “Because if lightning strikes a tree and you are in the immediate vicinity of the tree, you can get debris. A tree like this can literally explode and the bark fly away. Then you are more at risk there than in the open air area.”
And if you are caught in the forest by a thunderstorm with no way out, then the expert recommends looking for a treeless depression – i.e. going as deep in the terrain as possible.
Thunderstorms: How Safe is the Car Really?
But the car is not a problem, is it? “In a normal car you are in a so-called Faraday cage” and therefore safe, says Friedrich. However, you shouldn’t put your arms out of the window and close it. Also, do not park near trees that could fall on the vehicle.
Am I always safe in the house or do I have to adjust my behavior, such as not using the phone? “This rule existed in the days of the corded telephone,” explains Friedrich. Because if lightning strikes nearby, the electrical system can be damaged by overvoltages – and you can also damage wired devices yourself. “That’s why I wouldn’t use a corded phone during a thunderstorm. What else is it with a smartphone.”
There have already been such fatal lightning strikes in which people charged their smartphones from the mains plug and at the same time listened to music with headphones. In any case, the expert advises unplugging electrical appliances in the house.
Tornado Hazards: How to Stay Safe
For a long time, tornadoes were something more familiar in Europe from the US news or Hollywood films. But also in Germany and the surrounding area Hurricanes with devastating consequences occur. The DWD speaks of 20 to 60 tornadoes per year in Germany – so you should know how to react in an emergency.
Tornadoes can easily be recognized by the long trunk of clouds that extends from the sky to the ground. If you see this phenomenon you should act because the direction in which the storm will move is often difficult to predict. The DWD gives the following tips:
- If you have a basement, that’s the best possible hiding place during a tornado. But interior rooms such as a bathroom also protect you from flying debris. In any case, stay away from windows!
- When you are outdoors, look for a hollow in the area, similar to a thunderstorm, and lie down as flat as possible, face down. Stay away from buildings whose rubble could hit you. Falling trees are also a great danger.
- You should also close the shutters, garage doors and all doors in the house or apartment to avoid property damage.
You can flee in the opposite direction by car or bicycle, depending on the strength and speed of the tornado. Observe the cloud tube briefly beforehand in order to better assess its direction. If it is no longer possible to escape, do not stay in or near the car. Unlike a thunderstorm, you are not safe in it!
Heavy rain: correct behavior during floods
Floods and high water also occur frequently during thunderstorms with heavy precipitation. The danger posed by large amounts of water is often underestimated. Please note the following:
- Do not stay in bank areas, as the area can break off due to undercutting
- Switch off electrical devices and fuses in all rooms that could fill with water to avoid electric shocks
- Never drive your car on (partially) flooded roads, as obstacles in the water or holes in the ground are not visible – the engine can also be extremely damaged
- Do not enter underground car parks, as these can become a fatality in the event of severe flooding
- If you are out and about, take refuge as high as possible and keep your distance from fast flowing water
Even if videos and photos of floods are important for documentation, you shouldn’t put yourself in danger to get the most spectacular shots possible.