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When Lightning Strikes
doesn’t exist. Also, it’s best to avoid
holding up an umbrella, golf club, or
lightning rod. Wait 30 minutes after
Follow these simple steps to keep your guys safe during a thunderstorm.
you hear the last rumble of thunder
before heading back to camp.
The majority of people killed by
lightning were outside.
You’re camping in the
Have a storm plan. Since most
woods, and you hear
storms occur in warmer months
ominous rumbles of thunder
and thus coincide with outdoor
activities, there’s no excuse not to
in the distance. Then you
have a clear evacuation plan.
see flashes of lightning.
Make sure at least one adult on
What should you do?
each trip has taken the BSA’s
online “Weather Smart” training.
SOLUTION: Not only is it a good idea—it’s
First, for a number of reasons, forget required. ¿
the old trick about counting the
seconds between rumbles. Lightning JOSH PIVEN is co-author of the Worst-
can occur on both the leading and Case Scenario Survival Handbook
trailing edges of a thunderstorm, so series.
even a storm that’s passed or seems
far away may present a danger.
Instead, follow this accurate rule of
thumb: If you can hear thunder, light-
ning is a danger. Second, lightning
can occur when the skies directly
above are clear, so your distance from
the actual thundercloud may not

provide protection.
Next, understand the dangers
you face. Thunderstorms present HERE’S WHAT TO DO: winds may bring down tree limbs.
three separate but related hazards to 1SURVEY YOUR SURROUNDINGS. The 3MOVE AWAY FROM OTHERS.
campers. The first is obvious: The safest location is a nearby building or Separation should be at least 15 feet.
danger of being struck by lightning. vehicle. Remember: “When thunder This decreases the chance that a
Electrocution by lightning strike, roars, go indoors.” If you can get to charge will jump between people.
though uncommon, does happen, shelter, do so quickly. The building 4RUN TO A SAFER AREA. If you are in
and deaths do occur. The other two must have four sides and a roof. Don’t a forest and getting out isn’t possible,
dangers, however, may not be as consider a carport, lean-to, or dugout move to a stand of lower trees. If you
apparent: flash floods and wind. a safe shelter. The car should not be a can make it to open ground, seek a
Each year in the United States, convertible or golf cart. hilly area, but avoid the uppermost
more deaths occur from flash floods 2ACT FAST IF NO SHELTER IS NEARBY. elevations. Instead, choose the base
than from any other hazard related Because campsites are typically in the of a lower hill, while still avoiding a
to a thunderstorm, including light- woods, get out of your tent immedi- wash or riverbed.
ning strikes. This doesn’t mean that ately. It offers zero protection, and you 5AVOID STANDING UP. Should you
lightning isn’t deadly. But it does never want to be near tall trees in a crouch down, hands and balls of feet
mean you need to be acutely aware of thunderstorm. If your tent is pitched on the ground—the so-called “safe”
your location during a storm—and in a depression, gully, wash, dry creek, position during a lightning storm?
not simply to avoid being struck by or riverbed, you risk being swept Recent research indicates that a “safe”
lightning. away by floodwaters. Further, strong position during a thunderstorm
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