Sunday, December 4, 2022


RVelectricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Don’t take shelter under a tree during a storm


Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) with the subject line – JAM. Today I discuss what to do, and not do, during a lightning storm.


Dear Readers,

Sadly, three people lost their lives a few days ago during a lightning storm near the White House in Washington, D.C., and one person has been moved from intensive care to a burn center at a hospital. This took place in Lafayette Park, a place I know very well from having done sound for presidential inaugurations years ago. And yes, I was stationed right in Lafayette Park controlling sound for the parade route.

This is important!

The takeaway is to NEVER take shelter under a tree during a lightning storm. Always go inside a building, if possible, and stay away from all windows. If you’re in a metal skinned RV, that’s probably a safe place to be. But any canvas top RV is a bad place to be, and that’s likely true for any stick constructed RV trailer with a fiberglass skin. If that’s what you have, then the safest place to be is inside of your tow vehicle. The Faraday cage will cause any lightning to wrap around the outside of your car, and not penetrate the interior. So keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle.

Read the earlier story below

2 people were killed by a lightning strike near the White House

August 5, 20229:28 AM ET

UPDATE: Three people were killed and one is recovering in a hospital burn center, as of the most recent report.

Across the street from the White House, shown here in 2021, is Lafayette Park. On Thursday, a lightning strike there hit four people, and two of them were pronounced dead on Friday.

Two people were killed and two others are in critical condition after lightning struck at the park next to the White House in Washington, D.C.

Emergency responders received a report about people found injured in Lafayette Park at 6:52 p.m. on Thursday evening. U.S. Park Police and members of the U.S. Secret Service who were in the area at the time also rushed to assist the four people hurt. No property or vehicles were damaged by the strike, said D.C. Fire and EMS official Vito Maggiolo.

It is believed that the four might have been struck while they were near a tree during the heavy downpour, Maggiolo told NPR.

On Friday morning, 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller, both from Janesville, Wis., were pronounced dead, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park. Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

As more thunderstorms are expected in the U.S. capital Friday evening, Maggiolo advises people to stay indoors.

“If you see lightning or hear thunder, you should seek shelter inside of a building or a vehicle. Do not attempt to seek shelter under a tree,” he said.

The following ad was auto-inserted by Google

Stay away from trees in a storm. Find shelter immediately.

For more information on lightning safety while in an RV, please read my earlier article HERE

And if you haven’t seen this impressive (1/2-minute) video of what lightning can do to a tree, watch this. You won’t forget it.

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

You don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

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3 months ago

I find it surprising that this bit of advice might be news to some people.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
3 months ago
Reply to  John

But, unfortunately, it is, John. I think people want to run under a tree to get out of pouring rain, but if there’s lightning in the area it could prove deadly. Very sad. So Mike ran this post to make people aware of the extreme danger, or to remind others who might have forgotten. Take care. 🙂 –Diane

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