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Are Gazebos Safe In Lightning?

If a lightning storm hits when you’re entertaining in the yard, then sheltering under your gazebo is not the best place to be.

According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, there is no such thing as a lightning-proof small outdoor shelter – so your gazebo is not safe in lightning and you should go inside the house if lightning strikes.

Gazebos and other small open-sided shelters are really designed to protect against rain, excessive heat and sunshine, so they offer very little if any protection from lightning, serious wind and storms. So just remember, ‘when thunder roars, go indoors’ and you should stay safe.

Should a Metal Gazebo Be Grounded?

There may be a chance you get caught out by a thunderstorm because either the weather forecast is wrong or there simply aren’t usually a lot of storms in your area.

If this happens, then for peace of mind you can ground your gazebo, especially if it’s made of metal or has metal elements, and is standalone and not attached to the house.

The following guidance would only apply to a temporary or semi-permanent structure, not a permanent fixed metal gazebo. In the interests of safety it’s best to consult your local electrician whatever you do.

Unlike wooden framed more permanent outside structures, metal framed portable gazebos and metal fixed gazebos present their own unique problems in lightning.

Metal gazebos do attract lightning strikes so you can ground them using the following method. However, it’s worth reiterating that if lightning strikes then you should not be under your gazebo at all – but should run for cover inside the house.

  • Step 1: Buy 4 x 4-foot copper grounding rods and fastening brackets from your local hardware store.
  • Step 2: Securely attach the 4 brackets to each leg of your gazebo. 
  • Step 3: Drill holes through your decking or patio slabs to reach the ground if necessary, so your grounding rods will reach the earth.
  • Step 4: Push the grounding rods into the earth at least 6 inches deep, then locate the tops of the rods in the brackets on each leg and tighten them up. You can add cement into the holes to further secure the grounding rods if the structure will be semi-permanent.

Carrying out the action above will add a degree of grounding effect to your gazebo, but electricians are clear that a big lightening strike can wipe out the electrics and do severe damage to a family sized house (whilst the occupants remain unharmed) – so you really don’t want to be inside your gazebo in a thunder storm.

It’s also worth noting that if your gazebo is by a tree or another open-sided structure such as a pole barn with a tin roof – then it’s more likely to get struck by lightning anyway.

So in the final analysis, grounding your metal gazebo (or any other type), may just buy you some time and give you that extra level of protection you need if you’re caught out by lightning and need to run from the gazebo to the house.

lightning in the garden
Are Gazebos Safe in Thunderstorms & Lightning?

How To Secure A Gazebo From Wind (Or a Storm)

Lightning comes with thunder, wind and rainstorms – so you should also think about protecting your gazebo from the elements so it isn’t damaged and doesn’t blow away.

If you have a fixed permanent structure then you don’t need to worry about this as we’re assuming it would have been anchored during construction.

But if the weather forecast looks bleak and you have a temporary or portable gazebo – then you should probably just take it down and store it in the garage until the weather improves anyway. This applies to the Fall and winter months too.

However, if your area is not known for storms and you want to keep your gazebo up all summer – then you can anchor it to the ground to protect it from the occasional unexpected weather event.

If you secure rods into the ground and brackets onto each gazebo leg, you can then take the structure down for storage when you need to – making it semi-permanent without the costs involved building a fixed gazebo.

Here’s some advice for securing your gazebo to different surfaces..

How To Anchor a Gazebo To Concrete

  • Step 1: Construct your gazebo by following the manufacturers instructions.
  • Step 2: Use a spirit level to ensure the legs of your gazebo will sit flat.
  • Step 3: Locate the pre-made hole at the base of each gazebo leg, and use a masonry drill to make a hole down into the pavers or concrete. Vacuum out any dust from the holes.
  • Step 4: Gently tap a wedge anchor into the hole using a hammer, removing the nut and locating the gazebo leg hole over the bolt. Put the nut back on and tighten it with a spanner. You can buy 4 x wedge anchors in your local hardware store.

How To Anchor a Gazebo To Grass

  • Step 1: Construct your gazebo by following the makers instructions.
  • Step 2: Buy 4 x metal-threaded rods with bolts from your local hardware store. These should fit through the pre-made holes at the base of each gazebo leg, and be at least 24 inches long.  
  • Step 3: Position your gazebo and check the legs are plumb with a sprit level. 
  • Step 4: Push the threaded rods down into the ground through each gazebo leg hole, tapping them with a wooden or rubber mallet if needed. Leave enough of the rod showing through each hole to put the nuts on and tighten them with a spanner.

How To Anchor a Gazebo To Decking

  • Step 1: Construct your gazebo by following the manufacturers instructions.
  • Step 2: Buy 4 x strong nuts and bolts from your local hardware store. These should fit through the pre-made holes at the base of each gazebo leg, and be long enough to go through your wooden decking.
  • Step 3: Position your gazebo and check the legs are flat with a bubble level. 
  • Step 4: Drill into the decking with a wood drill bit, going down through each gazebo leg hole into the wood. 
  • Step 5: Bolt each leg to the wooden decking and tighten with a spanner. For access this may require removing the adjacent decking boards so you can get a spanner under to tighten the nuts.

If you want your gazebo to be slightly less permanent and more moveable around your decking, you could also screw down each gazebo foot with thin metal straps as an alternative – although this will not offer as much protecting from the wind as using bolting it down.

In Summary

Ultimately, gazebos of any type are not safe in lightning – so if you get caught in a thunderstorm you should run into the house straight away.

If you have a metal framed portable gazebo, you could consider grounding it – but this is only really any good at buying you time or adding a little extra protection while you seek safety in your home.

Storms also bring strong winds and lashing rain, so if you want to secure your gazebo to your patio or lawn for longer periods, you could use some of the methods outlined in this article to anchor it to the ground.

However, this is more to protect the gazebo itself, and will not help protect you from lightning strikes.

Watch this video to help you stay safe in lightning, not just in the yard but when you go out too…

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >