Dutch Language Blog

3 things to AVOID in an onweer Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here in the Netherlands, we frequently experience onweer (thunderstorms) between the hot days. Just last Friday, we experienced heavy regenbuien (rain showers) and onweer in some areas. And it often hits quite plotseling (suddenly). So what to do in an onweer – or, perhaps more apt, what to avoid? Here are 3 things to avoid in a Dutch onweer.

1. Buiten zijn

Even if you want to go fishing, that definitely not a good idea during an onweer! (Image by JanFillem at Unsplash.com)

The ANWB (the “Royal Dutch Touring Club”, mostly known for its work as Wegenwacht (road assistance) has some tips for what to do in an onweer. Do you hear any donderen (thunder)? Even if it is droog (dry), the ANWB advises you to expect it to be gevaarlijk (dangerous). So do not be outside, if possible!

2. Staan bij bliksem

Avoid standing (Image by Redd Angelo at Unsplash.com)

What happens if a bliksem (lightning) will inslaan  (impact) imminently around you? And how would you even know that?

Omroep Gelderland has the tips.

You can actually sense that a blikseminslag (lightning strike) is imminent. If you can feel that your haartjes (little hairs) on your armen (arms) go up, and you get a statisch gevoel (static feeling) – then you can ervan uitgaan (expect) that bliksem will inslaan in your directe omgeving (immediate vicinity). Because bliksem likely hits the tallest place, you should try making yourself as small as possible – and not stand! Especially never stand below a tree – those are much higher than you!

3. Zwemmen!

Do not go swimming! (Image by Tommy Pequinot at Unsplash.com)

Do not go zwemmen (swimming) during an onweer! That is very dangerous! In fact, there are lots of places to avoid. Belgian website meteo.be gives donders goede tips om je tegen de bliksem te beschermen (bloody good tips to protect yourself against lightning). Donders is the pun here – It refers to donder (thunder), but also donders, which means something like “very” or “bloody”. They have some places listed to avoid:

– Open water zoals vijvers en zwembaden  (open water such as ponds and swimming pools)
– Hoogtes zoals de toppen van heuvels en bergen of uitzichtspunten (high points such as hill tops, mountains or observation points)
– Bosranden (forest edges)
– Ramen (ook gesloten ramen) (windows (also closed windows)
– Omheiningen (ook niet-metalen), bedradingen of leidingen (fencing (also non-metal ones), wiring or pipes)
– Boten en tenten (boats and tents)
– Hoge gebouwen en torens, alleenstaande bomen (high buildings and towers, isolated trees)
– Open vlakten (open plains)
– Metalen constructies (metal constructions)

That is a lot to think about – basically no metal or anything that has the remote capability to attract a blikseminslag. So don’t be in those places!

So what do I do?

So the three things above are not great things to do in an onweer. So what should you do? Here are some tips.

  1. You are outside? What you can do best is to go naar binnen (inside), and to make sure that you find a schuilplaats (shelter) in an afgesloten (enclosed) space. And houd ramen en deuren gesloten (keep windows and doors closed)!
  2. You cannot go inside immediately? Is a bliksem impact near you imminent? Then you should gehurkt zitten (squat down), voeten tegen elkaar (feet against each other), making as little contact with the grond (floor) as possible, and making yourself as small as possible. So: niet blijven staan (don’t keep standing!)

If you still want more tips, this video should help!




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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Andy:

    great info!