Being outdoors is the most dangerous place in a thunderstorm.
When lightning is seen or thunder is heard, quickly move indoors or into a hard-topped vehicle and remain there until after the thunderstorm ends. Listen to forecasts and warnings from your local National Weather Service office through NOAA weather radio and other sources.
If thunderstorms are forecast, know where you can take cover quickly. The lightning "season" in the United States corresponds closely with summer vacation. Summer jobs, such as those in constructure and agriculture, and outdoor chores, such as lawn mowing or house painting are at their peak and put those involved in danger, according to the NWS.
Although anywhere outdoors involves risk during a lightning storm, certain locations are more vulnerable than others. These danger sites include near the water, near trees, on high places such as house roofs during construction, in other open areas such as a farmer's field or a hiking trail.
A particularly dangerous location is where groups of people congregate. These spots include outdoor sporting events, such as baseball, football, soccer, tennis and golf events.
Outdoor lightning safety rules from NWS include:
Go quickly inside a completely enclosed building, not a carport, open garage or covered patio.
If no enclosed building is convenient, get inside a hard-topped metal vehicle.
Do not take shelter under a tree.
If there is no shelter, avoid being the tallest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, crouch on the balls of your feet in the open, keeping twice as far away from a tree as it is tall.
Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
Get out of the water, off the beach and out of small boats or canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots.
Avoid open spaces, wire fences, metal clothes lines and exposed sheds.
Do not use metal objects, such as golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools.
Do not work on fences, telephone or power lines, pipelines or steel fabrications.
Stop tractor work and turn off heavy construction equipment, especially when pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Do not seek shelter under the equipment.
This advice is provided by the NWS for Lightning Safety Week. Watch for more tips at billingsgazette.com on Thursday and Friday.
You also may find more information on lightning awareness at the NWS Billings home page at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/billings. Click on Lightning Safety Week.