Fans of hiking or outdoor activities in general will know that although you try to plan things around the weather, the weather doesn’t plan around you.
You might be smack in the middle of a hike up a beautiful mountain when clouds start to gather, the sky starts pouring rain down at you, and worst of all, you then start to hear thunder. So today I am going to be talking about how to protect yourself from a lightning strike and how to avoid it in the first place.
Lightning is a fear of many people, including hikers. Because at best, it can be scary if you’re caught outdoors and at worst, it could even be deadly. But the more you are informed about it, the safer you’ll be.
How to Protect Yourself from a Lightning strike
How Do I Avoid Lightning on a Hike?
The first step to protecting yourself against lightning is to simply not be outdoors when it strikes. You can do this by being aware of the weather patterns around you, and what professionals are saying.
The most reliable way of doing this is to check the weather forecast for the day you’re supposed to go hiking, and if storms are expected, then plan the hike for another day to ensure your safety.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re hiking in a mountainous area, then thunderstorms typically pop up in the early afternoon. So, you could plan your hike for earlier in the day, so this way, the risk to come across a thunderstorm is way lower.
Where Do I Go If It Starts Lightning During a Hike?
But as we said earlier, sometimes all that planning is done for nothing and it might start storming while you’re in the middle of your hike. In this case, you should try to find shelter if any is available to you.
Suitable shelters include buildings that are enclosed and don’t have partial openings, these could be hard to find on a hike but a halfway house/cabin might be able to be found. And another option would be hard-topped metal vehicles.
But some places are not safe in case of a thunderstorm although they may look like they’d provide shelter. Some examples of this would be dugouts, sheds, or tents. And sadly, a lot of trail shelters aren’t safe either, as they’re not completely enclosed.
What If There Is No Suitable Shelter Nearby?
On a hike, the chances of you finding suitable shelters like were listed above are slim. But there are areas that you can get to that are safer than others, so here are some tips if you can’t make it to an enclosed building in time…
#1 – Most importantly, you need to avoid open areas! You never want to be the tallest object around because the lightning is more likely to strike the tallest object in the area.
#2 – Try and stay away from the tallest object in an area if it is isolated, such as a lone tree, tower or utility pole.
#3 – Stay away from all metal. This includes fences, wiring, or even metal hiking poles that you may have brought with you on your trip.
#4 – The final thing that you can do is get into the ideal physical position, which is to crouch on the balls of your feet with your feet together, your head lowered, and your ears covered.
What Can I Do If Someone Has Been Struck by Lightning?
If someone has been struck by lightning then there may still be hope for them, but you need to get them to a safer area before doing first aid because the lightning could strike again and hit you as well.
Lightning victims will not carry an electrical charge, so you’re safe to touch them. Call 911 if you can, but remember the main cause of death that happens immediately after a lightning strike is cardiac arrest so you may have to perform CPR to keep the person alive.
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Lightning?
Before we end this article, there are few extra facts about lightning that could help you understand it better and therefore be safer.
- Blue skies can be deceiving, lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from rainfall so if you hear thunder then you’re in danger even if the skies seem peaceful.
- Lightning tends to strike away from heavy rain.
- All thunderstorms produce lightning, there are no exceptions.
Hopefully this article has been helpful to you and provided you with the valuable information that you need to know in regard to thunderstorms in order to be safe!
Remember that the best way to stay safe from lightning is to avoid it in the first place, so please plan out your hike to the best of your ability.
If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting about camping and enjoying the outdoors, here are some additional posts to check out:
If you are caught out in the middle of a thunderstorm as long as you follow the tips above and try to find shelter, or the safest place you can get to, then you should be fine! If you have a story or any tips you want to share, feel free to leave a comment below, but for now… Be Safe And Happy Hiking.!