HIALEAH, Fla. (NBC) -- For the Deas family, a little stroll to the Toys 'R Us in Hialeah, Florida became an ordeal they will never forget.
"At first I thought it was a car bomb. I mean, that's the way it felt. I'm like, am I in Iraq or something?" Donna Deas said.
"When I grabbed the baby and I'm coming out of the truck, (there was) a big explosion. And I could feel my legs on fire."
The lightning struck a tree in the parking lot on March 15, just a few feet from where Deas and her family were standing.
Donna was able to lay baby Haley in the truck just in time, before she and her husband James felt the shock, knocking them both out.
"My husband fell on the ground. I'm telling him, 'Don't move, don't move. Just wait, just wait,'" Donna Deas recalled.
She said her legs were completely paralyzed for 20 to 30 minutes after the strike.
Fortunately her baby was inside the truck and not a few feet away, she said.
"Thank God that baby didn't make it to that stroller or she would have been zapped," she said, pointing at it.
Florida is known as the lightning capital of the United States, with more than 500 people injured by lightning each year.
"It wasn't raining or lightning and thundering," Deas said. "It was just overcast and it was just bam, it was like in a split second."
But lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the actual storm, even where it's not raining.
"I know one thing," Deas said. "When it's raining outside, I'm staying home."
The National Weather Service says that if you find yourself outside in a thunderstorm, get inside a safe building or vehicle as fast as possible.
It says a safe building is one that is fully enclosed and has plumbing or wiring.
Once inside, stay away from showers, sinks and bathtubs, as well as televisions, computers and other electronic equipment.
A safe vehicle is any full enclosed metal-topped vehicle -- such as a car, minivan, bus or truck with a hard top.
When inside, do not use electronic devices such as the radio during a storm.
The National Weather Service advises you to run to such a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning, or even see dark, threatening clouds developing overhead.
Do not take shelter under trees, and stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder.