How to Survive in a Lightening Storm

How to Survive in a Lightening Storm
If you're close enough to a thunderstorm to hear the thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning. Are you the tallest object around? Are you on a ridge or other elevated land form? Are you near any solitary tall objects like rock outcroppings or tall trees? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," you need to take immediate steps to give yourself the best chance of surviving a lightning storm.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Get indoors if at all possible -- this is by far the best way to protect yourself in a lightning storm.
Step 2
Locate the safest ground possible, if you can't get indoors. Trees of a relatively uniform size or thick brush and bushes make the best cover, since they won't attract lightning as a solitary tree would. Stay away from high ridges, rocky outcroppings or other sudden terrain changes. Lightning is likely to travel along these terrain changes, in addition to being drawn toward the highest point, which might be you, if you're on a ridge or mountaintop.
Step 3
Take off or discard anything made of metal, like metal-shod hiking poles or metal climbing gear. Spread these objects out at least 20 feet away from you. You can always recover them once the storm has passed.
Step 4
Stay at least 20 feet away from any other members of your party. This helps reduce the chance of lightning jumping from one person to another.
Step 5
Crouch down on the balls of your feet with your head down and make yourself as small as possible. Avoid the temptation to lie on the ground, as this increases your chances of being struck by lightning. If possible, insulate yourself from the ground by crouching on top of your pack or a small rock.
Step 6
Close your eyes and cover your ears with your hands. Eye and ear injuries are common due to the sound and light produced by nearby lightning.
Step 7
Be alert for signs of a possible imminent lightning strike such as hair standing on end or a tingling or electrified feeling to the air. If you notice any of these, hold your breath to keep from inhaling the superheated air of a nearby lightning strike.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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