I live beside a lake in the Laurentians. In the summer, when the temperature hits 35 degrees and the humidity is unbearable in Montreal, I suddenly have lots of friends dropping by! 

I have always loved summer thunderstorms, even when the house shakes after a violent thunderclap. But when you live in the woods, power outages caused by violent thunderstorms are quite common. 

During my first Laurentian summer, I went four days without electricity. It was my turn to go “squat” with friends! Nowadays, the moment I hear thunder, I get my flashlight.
Whether you live in the city or the country, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for thunderstorms that can cause a lot of damage and long power outages.
Here are a few essential safety rules:

  • Pay attention to weather warnings.
  • Think about bringing outdoor items inside, like lawn furniture.
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to make them more wind resistant, and remove any damaged branches.
  • Make sure your roof is in good condition.
  • Apply the rule of 30/30: If you count less than 30 seconds between the lightning and thunder, take shelter immediately. Each second is equal to 300 metres. If you count fewer than 30 seconds, it means the lightning struck less than 10 km away and could strike where you are standing.
Get a disaster preparedness kit with enough supplies to meet your family’s needs for at least 72 hours.

  • Avoid using electrical devices and the telephone. Use battery-operated devices instead like a flashlight.
  • Close doors and windows and stay away from them.
  • Avoid objects that can attract lightning. Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as goal posts, fences, tractors and bicycles. Do not seek shelter under large objects like a tree.
  • Stay away from fields. If you are caught by a thunderstorm in an open field, kneel on the ground with your feet together, your hands on your knees and your body bent forward.
  • Stay away from water. Water is an excellent conductor. Avoid swimming and if you are in a boat get to land as quickly as possible. Stay cautious around creeks and rivers that may be subject to flash flooding during a severe storm.
  • If you are driving, find a safe area to pull over and park. Remain in your vehicle, turn on your emergency flashers and wait until the heavy rains subside.
  • Avoid touching any conducting metallic surface inside or outside the vehicle.
  • Avoid driving through puddles, they could be deeper than you think.
  • Stay away from fallen power lines and report them immediately.
  • Avoid areas that have suffered damage as a result of the storm.
  • Avoid flooded waterways and keep an eye on children and pets.
  • If you see someone struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. If you are qualified, administer first aid.
Download our Be Ready app to learn how to better prepare yourself for any disaster or emergency.