My momma hated them. My dog loathes them even more so. Actually, I love them, especially if I can stay home and read a great book. I’m referring to thunderstorms, of course. Florida is ripe with them if you haven’t noticed. It’s one of the blessings of living here. Yes, a blessing! Don’t you realize that people in other parts of the country must either water their lawn daily or are on rotations and rationing systems? I’m an avid flower-bed planter, flower-lover, and, alas, a flower-killer because when God isn’t watering the flowers, I’m usually not either. So, yes, I’m thankful for our rainfall on most days.

Lightning in Pensacola

However, there is a downside…the danger of being struck by lightning. Have you ever been enjoying a nice day at the beach, relaxing in your reclining surf chair after a leisurely dip in the refreshing gulf…and just when you’re about to drift off, you hear it? KaBoom! You turn to see an ominous, dark cloud north of you. What should you do?

Most of us can remember those moms who panicked in storms, who had us all come inside, turn off the lights, stop all activity (as if we’d personally draw lightning bolts by moving or speaking), and hunker down. Do you remember that? Or perhaps you had a scientific parent, one who taught you to respect the storm but said it was just “clouds bumping into each other” or some sort of explanation like that. Whichever we’ve experienced, most of us carry those early instructions within our psyche. But, really, what are we supposed to do when caught in a thunderstorm?

What are the facts?

According to accuweather.com, Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S. It has much to do with our tropical climate and the fact that we are surrounded by water on three sides. What should you do if a thunderstorm rolls in while you are relaxing at the beach? Guess what? Your mom was right…you need to get inside. If you are at the beach, head for your car. Storms come up quickly and at the beach, you’ll be the tallest thing around, hence, just what a lightning bolt will find. Get off the beach! If that is impossible, get low. Hunker down between the dunes away from the water. The very best place is to be inside a building. The shelters or tents at a campground are not safe; get in either a car or better yet, into a building.

The plans of mice and men… It would be ideal to plan for the weather. But, we all know that this is tricky at best for a Floridian as storms of this sort come up with tiresome regularity. So we do our best, plan for it and be smart. We’ve all heard of the “dog days” of summer, those sweltering hot months of July and August when even the dogs don’t want to be outside. These are the days in which we enjoy the ole AC, a tall glass of tea while we sit and pet Roxy.

So what do you do if you’re driven indoors? Certainly, there are alternatives to outdoor activities, cool things to do inside. Floridians typically have a cache of candles ready in case the electricity goes out and a flashlight or two handy, even now with our iPhones and iPads. I suggest ditching the electronics and experiencing the storm, from the inside. Make it a joy. If you don’t want to read, you can always just sit quietly and listen to the falling rain. There’s always a board game to play with the kids. A rainy afternoon is perfect for Settlers of Catan, our family’s favorite game. Do you play an instrument? I play the piano and it seems more exciting with a storm raging outside. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is a pause, a rest of some kind. For me, a thunderstorm gives me that pause, permission if you will, to play, create, and rest.