How to protect yourself during a severe thunderstorm

Last updated March 1, 2024
Reading time: 2 min

What should you do to protect yourself in the event of a severe thunderstorm in Montréal? How can you avoid electrocution if you’re outdoors? Follow our guidelines on how to stay safe during a thunderstorm.

Hear the thunder rumbling? Quick, take shelter! Enter a building or find a safe place to wait out the storm. 

Be vigilant. Darkening skies and wind gusts are signs that a thunderstorm is brewing.

Indoors

  • Unplug electrical devices.
  • Close the doors and windows and move away from them.
  • Avoid using televisions or computers, as power surges caused by lightning can seriously damage your devices. Favour the use of battery-operated devices.
  • Use a cell phone or a cordless phone rather than a stationary phone.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the final thunder clap to go outdoors.

Outdoors

Not possible to take shelter in a building or a car? Learn how to reduce the risk of being struck by lightning if you’re outdoors.

  • Do not take shelter under a tree, a post, a fence or any equipment that can attract lightning.
  • Avoid bus shelters or any type of open construction.
  • Take shelter in the lowest place you can find, such as a ditch.
  • Crouch down, bring your head against your knees, and cover your head with your arms.
  • Place an insulating material, such as a plastic bag, between yourself and the ground.
  • Be prepared to move in case of sudden flooding.

Is athunderstorm in the forecast?Postpone your outdoor activities. Most people who’ve  been struck by lightning were not necessarily under the rain.

In a car

  • If you’re driving, find a safe place to stop. Stay in your car, turn on your hazard lights, and wait for the storm to die down.
  • Avoid driving on flooded roads.

After the storm

Has your home been damaged? If you fear for your safety, call 911 to ask if you can enter your home. If you notice branches touching the electric lines, please visit the Hydro-Québec Web site. Also contact your insurer to inform them about the damages.

Flooding

Has your house been flooded? Read our article entitled What to do after a flood in order to ensure that you can return home safely. This article includes clear instructions for properly cleaning your house and identifying the potential risks for your safety. In order to prevent another disaster, please read our article entitled Flooding: How to protect your home so that you’re properly prepared the next time a critical situation occurs.

Beware of the risk of electrocution! Avoid entering a flooded room in which there are electrical devices that are turned on or cables.

If a sewer inlet cover has been displaced or if a large volume of water is escaping, contact 311.

Damages caused by strong winds

  • Contact 311 to report any danger nearby (sidewalk, street): uprooted tree, broken branches on a vehicle or branches that appear close to falling down, debris blocking the road, displaced signage, defective traffic lights.
  • Place broken branches, uprooted shrubs or other debris on your property, close to the street. Place bulkier objects in the bulky items collection.
  • Contact Hydro-Québec to report the presence of damaged electrical wires.