We were all sitting around the campfire in the northern Minnesota backcountry when a bolt of lightening struck. The crack of the lightening left a ringing in my ears and the story I was telling to my friends was instantly forgotten.
We never even heard the storm approach. It was on us out of nowhere and luckily we all escaped that bolt without injury and booked it to our tents.
Lightening is a real killer and knowing how to stay safe while outdoors will save your life. Take the time to learn how to stay safe and avoid being struck by lightening while enjoying the outdoors.
Tips For Avoiding The Dangers Of Lightening
With the right tools and knowledge you don’t have to be afraid of enjoying your outdoor passions because of fear of lightening.
Preparing for lightening storms will allow you to keep yourself safe whether you are backpacking, camping, hunting, fishing, or boating.
The fact of the matter is over 200 people die each year being struck by lightening. Eighty percent of those fatalities are men and the majority of lightening strikes hit people pursuing outdoor recreation.
No one can survive a direct hit of lightening but there are instances of survivors of step voltage or sideflash. This is when lightening hits a nearby object and the current travels, or partially jumps to the victim.
Water and metal are two conductors of electricity, so standing in water or holding a rod or gun increase the odds that a lightening bolt will strike you.
While you can’t fully protect yourself from the electricity generated by a lightening strike, wearing rubber soled boots can protect you from being hit by ground currents.
When an object close to you is struck by lightening some electricity is sent through the earth or water creating a ground current. This electricity can strike you so a rubber soled boot, which does not allow electricity to pass through, will protect you from being injured.
If you intend to be outdoors when there is a chance for lightening storms always wear rubber soled boots.
The heavy the rubber sole is the more protection it offers. The bottoms of your boots are the most important factor but wearing hip high boots will protect you even more.
Where Lightening Strikes
Within the US, Florida boasts the most thunderstorms per year along with the entire Gulf Coast. The Southern United States as a whole experiences more thunderstorms than the northern states. The Northeast has the fewest.
Tips To Stay Safe During A Thunderstorm
- If a thunderstorm rolls in stop whatever you are doing outside and seek shelter.
- Drop any metal items you are holding. These objects can draw a strike to you.
- Leave any water immediately. Lightening travels through water a great distance so an indirect strike can happen to those standing in water.
- If you cannot reach shelter head to low ground. Never stand on high ground such as a hill during a thunderstorm.
- Never stand under large trees during a thunderstorm. Tall trees attract lightening strikes. A tree will not protect you from a strike.
- Never lie on the ground when lightening is striking. This makes the heart more vulnerable to ground currents.
- If stuck outdoors, lower yourself in a crouched position with your hands on your knees. Lightening strikes the tallest object in the area so be lower than your surroundings.
- If none of the above options are available head to the closest cluster of low hanging trees.
- Watch out for fires started by lightening strikes. Trees and limbs may be ignited so keep your eyes peeled.
My friends and I were lucky that night. I can’t say I’ve ever had a storm hit so unexpectedly before, but I should have been better prepared. Once we got up in the morning to head out fishing there was a lot less joking going on than normal. I think we were all just thankful we were alive and well.
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