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Lightning Safety Tips for Hikers

Posted by Loren Drummond at Jul 15, 2012 11:08 PM |

Do you know what to do when you're stuck on a mountain during a thunderstorm? With some wild weather predicted this week, review some key lightning safety tips before you hit the trail.

Do you know what to do when you're stuck on a mountain during a thunderstorm? With some wild weather predicted this week, review some key lightning safety tips before you hit the trail.

Prevention

  • Before you go, check the weather. There are many excellent weather resources available to hikers. Our favorite is the National Weather Service's mountains forecast page that provides a detailed forecast for hiking destinations (not just towns and cities) throughout Western Washington.
  • Pay attention to the weather on your hike, and try to avoid ridges or walking into a storm on a peak summit. If you can hear thunder, then you're already at risk of a lightning strike, and it's time to take action to protect yourself.

If, Then

  • If you're in the open or on a ridge, retreat to a sheltered area. Shallow caves or picnic shelters aren't good enough. Lightning can bounce around and strike you. Enter the forest, but do not choose the tallest tree in a stand of trees for shelter. Avoid water and isolated trees.
  • If you cannot find shelter, crouch down with your feet close together. Do not lie down—doing so creates a larger target for lightning. Crouching on your pack does not lessen your chances of being struck.
  • If you're in your tent, get out—the poles attract lightning.
  • If you're near your vehicle, get in and roll up the windows—but do not touch any metal during the storm.

Make yourself less attractive (to lightning)

  • Toss away metal objects (ice axe, trekking poles, tent poles, climbing gear).
  • Get off the cell phone. This could attract lightning.
  • Hiking partners should stay at least 15 feet away from each other.

Further reading for lightning safety

Comments

thanks

Excellent reminders and great timing, thanks for posting this!

Posted by:


"Hikingqueen" on Jul 16, 2012 10:03 AM