UTAH (ABC4) – Springtime in Utah means warmer temperatures, the return of wildflowers, and thunderstorms. Lightning is one of Utah’s top causes of death by a natural hazard.

“Lightning is the biggest risk for injury and death in Utah from natural hazards. It causes more deaths than anything else, other than radon,” says Wade Mathews, the Public Information Officer for the Utah Department of Emergency management.

This makes lightning Utah’s number one weather killer and not flash flooding as many may believe.

So as the saying goes, ‘when thunder roars, head indoors.’

What can you do to protect yourself if you are outdoors enjoying Utah’s beautiful scenery and a thunderstorm rolls in?

“Don’t get under trees, people think that will provide some shelter. It may provide shelter from rain or hail but it’s not going to protect you from lightning,” explains Mathews. “In fact, it’s going to be that lightning rod. You’re going to want to avoid tall things like that. Get out to an open area and just crouch down on the balls of your feet and curl up in a ball as much as possible and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands and kind of just get low.”

Mathews also adds to not lay down on the ground as this creates more of a contact point for a lightning strike to reach ground.

But it is always best to ‘know before you go’ outdoors by planning your trip around the weather.

“What we should do if we’re planning to go into the outdoors in the springtime weather is be aware of the weather, be aware of the forecast, know the meanings of watches, warnings, and advisories.”

As more of us begin to get ready to explore all of the natural beauty that Utah has to offer, it is best to always be safe and to have a plan whenever you are outside during this more active time.

You can always stay ahead of any weather with Utah’s Most Accurate Forecast on-air and online. We are There4You!