What to do in a thunderstorm?

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If you're walking in a fairly remote area with no shelter and get caught in a thunderstorm, what's the best thing to do to reduce the risk of being struck by lightning?
 

Rocky

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On the sofa
One piece of advice is to stay low.......don't stand on the top of a hill, or near pylons or near a tarn. I'm never quite sure whether to shelter under a tree. I know it can act as a lightening conductor but will the lightning jump across to me?
 
OP
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Trees are generally not recommended to shelter under, partly because of the possibility of the lightning jumping across to you in the event of a strike but mostly because a lightning bolt is so hot that the tree sap will instantly flash to steam causing an explosion.:eek:
I'd heard that you shouldn't stand under a tree, but hadn't understood why. So I did a quick search on YouTube and found this ... spectacular (from a nature point of view) but you wouldn't want to be stood next to / under it - the power, it's electrifying ... :eek::

 

Slowandsteady

Regular Member
If you can, find a low spot away from trees, fences, poles, etc. If your skin tingles and hair stands on end, lightning is about to strike - crouch down immediately, balancing on the balls of your feet, placing hands on knees with head between them. This makes you into the smallest target possible and minimises contact with the ground.

And if you are trying to judge how far away a storm is, don't count seconds as miles - sound takes around 5 seconds to travel a mile so if there is a one second delay between the flash and thunderclap the storm is about 0.2 miles away!

And if someone you are with is struck by lightning, it is safe to touch them if they need help - people struck by lightning carry no electrical charge that can shock other people.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Nemesis Ridiculii
Staff member
I'd heard that you shouldn't stand under a tree, but hadn't understood why. So I did a quick search on YouTube and found this ... spectacular (from a nature point of view) but you wouldn't want to be stood next to / under it - the power, it's electrifying ... :eek::

That demonstrates it really well with the top part of the tree being blown apart. :ohmy: Notice the splinters that come raining down - being hit by those close-to would be like shrapnel from a bomb.
 
OP
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Some good advice there, thank you. One of those links debunks the lie flat on the ground advice that I've seen posted elsewhere on the web. :eek:
 

classic33

Regular Member
Some good advice there, thank you. One of those links debunks the lie flat on the ground advice that I've seen posted elsewhere on the web. :eek:
Do that and you're increasing the area in contact with the ground. And the number of routes that any strike can follow through you.

In addition to the advice by @Slowandsteady, keep any metal items within reach. Don't just get rid off them, possibly having to look for them later.
 

ColinJ

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Todmorden
Some good advice there, thank you. One of those links debunks the lie flat on the ground advice that I've seen posted elsewhere on the web. :eek:
My dad saw lightning hit the ground in a field full of cows once. Every single one of the animals died! A farmer stood nearby survived. The thinking was that the electricity surging through the ground found it easier to take a shortcut through the animal rather than passing through several feet of soil. The current caused fatal heart attacks in the beasts. The farmer's feet were insulated by his wellies and were close together anyway so there wouldn't have been such a big potential difference between them as there would have been between the 2 ends of a cow.

As for standing under trees ... A group of teenagers sheltered under a tree in a thunderstorm in Kenilworth in the 1990s. Lightning struck the tree and the kids were hit by tree shrapnel. One of the boys later died of his injuries.
 
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