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Discussion in 'Nature' started by Northern Dancer, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist


    Over 65 per cent of injuries and deaths by lighting occur when people are participating in outdoor recreation activities. Campers and hikers are among those most commonly affected by lightning, often struck during a thunderstorm when they are in open areas [ground current] or when taking shelter under trees [side flash]. Eighty-nine % of the casualties are men.

    Research shows that a lightning strike that hits the ground can be fatal out to 10 metres. Some people have been injured 15 to 30 metres away from where a lightning strike has hit the ground.

    Lying on the ground in a tent during a lightning storm would maximize the chances of being hurt. The word is maximize.

    One way to reduce your risk of being struck by lightning is by monitoring the Lightning Danger Maps on a hand-held mobile device. If the red danger zones are in or are approaching your location, go to a safe shelter and stay there until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. Learn how to interpret the weather signs. [The are excellent books and resources that one can purchase inexpensively.]

    Now...for those of us who tent in isolated or semi isolated areas...

    Avoid setting up your tent under an isolated tree or the tallest tree, close to a metal fence, or on a hilltop. This looks like a nice spot for a tent. However due to the higher ground and the isolated tree next to the tent, this would not be a safe location.

    When you hear thunder, lighting is within striking distance. Find a safer location immediately.

    If you are in the forest retreat to a group of small trees surrounded by taller tress or find dry, low area like a depression or ravine. Avoid lone trees and other tall objects as well as rocky outcrops and ledges.

    Look for a dry, low-lying area such as a valley and become the smallest target possible. Do this by crouching down with your heels touching, head between the knees and ears covered. Minimize your contact with the ground and do not lie down flat.
    [As noted in the illustration at the top of the page.]

    Wait thirty minutes after the last rumble of thunder. About one third of casualties occur after the storm because people return to outdoor activities too soon.

    For those of you who are car camping...

    When you hear thunder, lightning is within striking distance. Find a safe location immediately, either in a building with plumbing and wiring or an all-metal automobile [not a convertible top]. Your tent is not safe.

    Unsafe buildings include:
    1. Picnic shelters - which have open sides and don't have a method to ground the lightning strike.
    2. Outhouses - which don't have wiring or plumbing to ground the lightning strike.
    3. Picnic tables are the same as above.
    Learn more...

    There are numerous good sources of information on the topic. It is always good to check with local authority to learn about conditions in your community or the place you plan to camp.

    STAY AWAY FROM THE SENSATIONAL WRITERS - those are the ones that are more interested in other matters and not your health and safety. The same can be said about those writers who want to scare us about bear facts as well.

    eezb9.jpg Be weather wise - be safe.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
    jc banks likes this.
  2. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    Just wondering, does wearing rubber-soled shoes help protect you from lighting strikes that hit the ground away from you directly? Can it help ground the charge or is this an old wife's tale that is not really true? :(
  3. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    Studies indicate that it doesn't make any difference what you are wearing on your feet. I wish it did.

    A few years ago there was a fierce electrical storm [a warning had been issued] and so I decided to head for town. Just fifteen feet in front of my car lightning struck the ground. Their is a picture on the nature thread that I took of the beautiful red skies after the storm had past.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  4. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Yea, because once the electricity has passed through your heart it doesn't really matter where it goes from there. The damage has already been done.

    Scary! It makes you sound like one of those storm hunters. Getting up close and personal with the lightning in order to snap a shot :snaphappy:

    Thanks for the useful thread, I've made it a sticky!
  5. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    Thanks - it is an issue and seems to be more of an occurrence every year. There is not a lot of material available for interior campers.
  6. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Yeah there are some good tips, especially when you are camping and surrounded by trees the conventional wisdom of avoiding tall landmarks can be tricky.
  7. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    In setting up camp one of the standard safety rules is to look up - and check for dead trees or limbs. They are called widow makers in some camp manuals. This picture taken from the net sends a cold streak up my back. I've only seen one large branch on top of a tent in my ventures - and thankfully no one was hurt. But scared? The intended victim sure had a lot of descriptive words to explain how he felt.

    campforums likes this.
  8. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Excellent point, I've seen fallen trees that can smash through the roofs of houses. I'm certain it could do a lot worse to a tent, god forbid there is a person inside.
  9. happyflowerlady

    happyflowerlady Survivalist

    I have never been out camping in a bad thunderstorm. Actually, for two reasons. The first being that my father was a lineman, so anytime that a thunderstorm came through the area, it was sure to knock out people's electricity; which meant that he would be out there for the next day (or more) working straight through the night, getting power poles repaired. Even if my dad had not had to work in stormy weather, we would not have chanced going camping anyway. We usually went to some little lake, high in the Idaho mountains, and the roads were little more than a dirt trail, and totally an impassable mud bog when it rained. We would have been stuck in the mud long before we actually reached the lake.

    I do remember being out horseback riding when an unexpected thunderstorm hit, though, and we would always just try to find the thickest-branched tree that we could find; get off of the horses and throw the stirrups across the saddle to protect it, and scrunch down under the tree branches to keep as dry as possible. Even though it was possible that we could have been struck by lightning, it as not as likely, since we were in a forest of trees, and ours was no more likely to be struck than any of the other trees were. While it is true that sheltering under a giant cedar tree probably didn't keep us from getting wet, we would have certainly been soaked to the skin if we had not found shelter from the downpour.
  10. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    It seems to me, certainly in this neck of the woods, that storms are becoming more frequent. Winds are increasing in velocity and storm warnings/alerts are becoming too common.
  11. MacGyver

    MacGyver Survivalist

    I was out on the local lake when the clouds started forming like this:


    Before the first flash of lightning, I knew it wasn't going to be good and started making a beeline for the boat ramp. I'm glad I wasn't that far away because I realized just how dangerous that lake can be in a situation like that. It's only got one ramp and the boats waiting to get off the water were stacked up at least 10 deep. Some of the people were running their boat right up on the ground and running for their trucks. It's amazing how fast you can back up a trailer, load a boat and haul a** when you really have to. The next day we'd found at least two trees next to the water that had been hit with lightning strikes. Scary stuff!
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  12. happyflowerlady

    happyflowerlady Survivalist

    Those are some interesting looking clouds ! they seem like they are trying to form into something else the way they puff out at the bottom. They even kind of remind me of lenticular clouds just a little bit, except i think that the lenticulars look a whole lot like a flying saucer.
    It is feninitely not a good idea to be oug on a lake, especially a large one that gets big waves when storm like that one comes in. I remember hearing about boats capsizing on Lake Pend O'reille when we had a bad thunderstorm over the lake. Since there are places where theyhave not ever found the bottom of the lake, that would not be a good place for your boat to capsize.

    Lenticular clouds...
  13. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    "...making a beeline to the shore" was a sensible thing to do. I'm always surprised watching a canoeist coming across a lake in the midst of an electrical storm. The tragedy would be seeing them get hit by lightning; because no lay person in their right mind would be making any attempt to rescue them; it would be simply to dangerous to try it.

    A number of years ago, during an electrical storm with tornado like winds, past through the Bala region and caught an out trip from the Pinecrest Y camp.
    They had to be rescued by local cottagers. One of the canoes found later was actually split in two. So...as the Scouting organization coined - "Be Prepared".

  14. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    ...a smart thing to do MacGyver, "...making a beeline for the shore." I've scratched my head on occasion as I watched some fool coming across in the lake in a canoe in the midst of an electrical storm. The tragedy is that no one in their right mind is going to attempt any kind of a rescue if they are hit by lighting. In our case we just wait for the OPP.

    A number of years ago, an electrical storm accompanied by high winds, caught a out trip from Pinecrest Y camp. Though they safely got to the shore in excellent manner they lost three of their canoes. One canoe was picked up later by a cottager split in half. As the Scouts say...

    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  15. JoshPosh

    JoshPosh Pathfinder

    This something that we in Hawaii would never experienced before. I never gave it a second thought either. I was probably more afraid of the sharks in the water then I was about natures fury.
  16. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    That is the interesting thing about this site - we get experiences from other parts of the world. Sharks would not be an issue here but there are other concerns.

    I remember once basking in the sun and watching a thunder storm in the distance. It was weird because you could see the array of electrical charges, pouring rain and the fierce black skies. But I just laid there on a blanket warm and cozy and watched nature at work/play.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSbqzx36eJQpEL7VLl2_Rj_kkjAit0eW1W9HRvquJy7sXa074_OGg.jpg Something like this...
  17. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    I've never seen clouds that looked like that before, it almost looks as though someone smudged the picture

    I guess they did not check the weather reports beforehand. I hope they learned their lesson and did not repeat that mistake.
  18. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    ______________________________________________________________________ :wideyed:

    I remember it being one of those really freaky storms that no one had expected. It just came up out no where it seems and caught a lot of people off guard.
  19. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    @JoshPosh, Do you live near the ocean enough that the Tsunami scare in 2014, might have worried you a bit? It is a bit worrisome in low lying states and countries, the possibility of a direct hit. Of course you all might be out surfing the waves. While it is not caused by a freaky storm, that would be very scary and freaky to experience something that massive.
    @happyflowerlady, Your picture of clouds does look like a army of flying saucers. lol :rolleyes::eek:
  20. happyflowerlady

    happyflowerlady Survivalist

    @2sweed, I am hoping that this last storm is missing you; but as hard as it is hitting, even down here in Alabama, I have been worrying about how you are doing up there in the northern country. Did you get your water and drains thawed out yet ?
    We are still sitting here with snow on the ground. It is not still snowing; but it has been too cold for it to melt off. This has been a really cold winter. We are not supposed to be having snow here in March, that is crazy ! !
    Next week it looks like the temperatures are coming back up here, and maybe into the 60's for the first time in months; so maybe it will start to look like Spring up there where you are as well.
    It is a good thing that Robin got the picture of this little dandelion when she took it; I am sure they are all frozen solid by now.
    Here is a picture of our yard in the snow. It wouldn't upload, so I am posting the link.

  21. jc banks

    jc banks Novice Camper

    Lots of good information here.I have been lucky enough not to ever been caught in a lightning storm, but glad you all can share so much helpful information with us.
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