Lightning will almost never appear without some hints that it may be coming. The genesis of lightning is the movement of one air mass into the area currently occupied by another air mass. This causes friction and static electrical build up. Coincidently, this same phenomenon creates storm fronts, too. While they are called thunder storms, they really are lightning storms. Without lightning, there would be no thunder.
Dark ominous storm clouds rolling across the sky signal that lightning is in the area.
The absolute best defense against lightning is to remove yourself as a target when you see the warning signs show up. If you can hear thunder rumbling in the distance as the storm builds overhead, lightning will be visible before long as it arcs its way through the air. Of course, lightning that stays above the lower cloud banks as flash lightning is not really too dangerous in most instances. It does not tend to strike the earth or people.
The danger builds when lightning bolts become visible beneath the clouds.
When this happens, the thunder often becomes a clap instead of a rumble. If you have ever heard the sound of lightning as it strikes the earth, you will know that there are other sounds associated with a nearby strike. You often hear a loud high pitched screeching sound. This may be followed by the immediate sound of an explosion as the object targeted receives the full impact of thousands of volts of electricity. There may be a final sound of a hiss as the air reacts to the heat and ferocity of the lightning bolt. When this sequence occurs, take time to feel fortunate that you were not the target of the strike.
Human beings do not make good conduits for electrical jolts.
Human bodies were not designed to conduct electricity. Because of this, strong bursts of electrical current tend to do permanent and sometimes fatal damage. Because many people are hit by lightning when in an open space, it will strike the upper part of the body and exit through the lower leg, ankle, and foot. It is common that only one leg and foot will receive the bulk of the damage. The truly bad damage happens internally to the nervous system and heart. When these receive a large enough hit, the nerves short out and the heart stops. Death may be only seconds away.
The storm is overhead with lightning crossing the sky almost continuously.
This is the time to make a hasty retreat. You do not want to be in a field, under a tree, or holding onto anything metalic. Since you cannot outrun lightning, the speed that you move as you find a better place to be is only important in that it shortens the time that you are in the danger zone. Do not carry a metalic object with you. Leave it behind and retrieve it later. This is true even if it is your favorite golf club.
Do not huddle up with other people.
If you have to ride the storm out without having shelter, do not hold hands with friends for support. This just makes a bigger and more conductive target for the lightning. Get as low down to the earth as possible. Lightning prefers to travel as short a distance as possible before it strikes. Even a few feet can be a big difference. If the lightning strikes a tree, it will electrify the area around it. Stay away from trees in a storm.
Cars are one of the safest locations during a lightning storm.
Because cars sit on top of rubber tires, they are insulated from the ground. Electricity likes a ground. There is no ground as nice for electricity as the earth or the ground that you stand on. Anything that keeps you from being a ground source for the lightning is a secure place. The inside of buildings always works for a safe haven from lightning. Although if it strikes nearby, it can start a fire that could be a bad thing for those in the building.
The main tip for lightning safety is to keep your head on.
Whether inside or outside, avoid doing anything that will draw lightning toward you. Pay attention for the possibility of fire. Hail also accompanies many thunder storms. Heavy rains can produce flooding. There is more to be concerned about than just lightning. Even tornadoes can be involved when the storms become more severe.