What Do You Do in a Lighting Storm While Camping Out?

What Do You Do in a Lighting Storm While Camping Out?
Warmer temperatures in the spring and summer months signals a return to camping for many people. From formal campgrounds in travel trailers to backcountry solo tents, setting up camp is a means to reconnect with nature. Warm weather often includes a passing thunderstorm, and where there is thunder there may be lightning. It is important to understand what to do in a thunderstorm while camping to stay safe.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Weather radio
  • Camper or other sturdy shelter
Step 1
As a precaution, monitor local and national weather forecasts. Bring a dedicated weather radio to stay updated on weather conditions. Dedicated radios continually receive weather information from the National Weather Service including watches and warnings. Regular battery-operated radios will allow you to monitor storms and updates on changing conditions.
Step 2
Move away from tall objects. Lightning is attracted to objects that extend or rise above other objects. Tall trees, buildings, poles or other tall structures can attract a lightning strike. Never stand directly beneath any tree, especially a tall tree, during a storm.
Step 3
Avoid conductors. Tree roots, fence lines and even water act as conductors for lightning. Often lightning may travel some distance, following the path of a conductor, and still have the ability to do great damage. Avoid standing over, alongside or making contact with anything that could conduct electricity.
Step 4
Get inside your camper or trailer. Unless the camper is situated on a rise or elevated to be a potential target for lightening, this is a good option for riding out a storm. Stay away from any electrical appliances and large windows during the storm. Keep in mind that strong and gusty winds may accompany many storms and can damage a camper that is exposed.
Step 5
Avoid exposed ridges and open areas. Backcountry campers often set up camp with the perfect view in mind. If this spot is on an exposed ridge or large open area, then you may be a prime target for lightning. Move to a low or depressed area until the storm passes. Storms may produce flash flooding, so stay out of obvious washes and dry creek bed areas.
Step 6
Take the lightning position. Sit down and pull your knees up to your chest. Wrap your arms around your legs, keep your feet together, place your head on your knees and close your eyes. The goal is to make as small a target as possible for lightning.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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