Protection from Lightning - Smart Strategies for Hikers and All Outdoor Enthusiasts
Posted by Karen Cohen
Prevention is your best protection against lightning. Learn how to read
the sky and where to run for cover. Increase your outdoor safety by
knowing what to do and what not to do if you get caught in a lightning
Prevention is your best protection against lightning. Be sure to check
your local weather report before you head outside. Learn how to read
the sky and where to run for cover. Lightning can and does strike in the
same place twice, do not make yourself vulnerable by becoming a
Reading the Sky Stay aware of the sky above you with your
eyes and ears. To estimate how far away a lightening storm is, count the
time between the lightning flash and the sound of thunder. Every five
seconds difference in time equals one mile in distance. If you hear
thunder 12 seconds after you see a flash, the lightning struck just over 2
miles away (2 2/5 miles).
Things and Places to Avoid
- If lightning is moving
toward you, stay away from: Fences, metal pipes, clotheslines, power
lines, rails and other metallic paths that could carry lightning to you from
- Natural lightning rods such as a tall isolated tree in
an open area.
- Metal objects you may be holding or carrying
(bicycles, ski poles, golf clubs, etc.).
- Isolated sheds or other
small structures in open areas.
Safe Havens The preferred (safest) place to be during a
lightning storm is inside a home, large building or a car (but, never a
- If you are miles from a suitable shelter, you must
seek refuge in low areas away from tall objects such as trees, towers, or
- In flat country, head for dense woods, ravines
or large groves of young trees.
- For shelter in the forest, find a
low area under a thick growth of small trees.
- If you are caught in
an open area, crouch in a low place like a valley or ravine. Be watchful
of flash floods.
Stuck in the Storm To do your best to avoid injury:
Get on your hands and knees - just drop to your knees and bend
forward. Never lie flat on the ground.
- Use whatever
insulation you may have available. Attempt to have as little of your body
touching the ground as possible. Crouch on a log or your sleeping bag
or foam pad.
- Get out of your tent if it contains metal poles or
- If your hair starts to stand on end, act quickly because lightning is
about to strike.
Copyright 2005. Karen B. Cohen All Rights Reserved
Karen B. Cohen is a performance and wellness coach living in a college
town in rural Virginia. A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Karen enjoys a
variety of pursuits in the Upper Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge
Mountains. She is an expert yoga instructor and occasionally leads
yoga hikes near her home. She is available for seminars, workshops
and individual coaching, and can be reached through her latest project