Camping in a thunderstorm
The sky is darkening, the clouds are becoming larger, and a tremendous thunderstorm is about to erupt above you in fifteen minutes – a situation that occurs very frequently during the summer months in the United States. For those of you who chance to be camping outside during such inclement weather, the following guidelines of conduct may be of assistance. We’ll go through some of the things to bear in mind when sleeping in a tent during a rainstorm with our colleague and outdoor expert Michael Bösiger.
Heavy rainfall, strong wind gusts, and hail are common accompanying features of these thunderstorms.
It is important not to underestimate the possibility of getting struck by lightning.
For example, strong winds can quickly ruin your tent and cause it to be ripped from the ground.
- If the worst case scenario occurs, torrents of water or even landslides might cascade down the hill.
- Tip from Tatonka: The most essential guideline is to keep an eye on the weather at all times.
- When in doubt, you should either turn around or locate a secure spot to hide until the situation has been resolved.
- Thunderstorms, particularly in the highlands, are frequently accompanied by significant temperature reductions.
Take cover: during thunderstorms a tent is no safe place
When a thunderstorm is coming, you should try to take refuge in a sturdy structure, such as an alpine hut, if at all feasible. This is especially important if you are in the mountains. If there is a car nearby, it might be used as a safe haven as well. When it comes to lightning, a tent, on the other hand, provides no protection at all. In comparison to a vehicle, a tent is unable to function as a faradic cage, which is capable of transmitting electricity from its surface into the surrounding ground.
As a result, the energy leaps or breaks through the isolated areas.
If there are persons in close proximity to the tent’s frame, whose bodies are more closely attached to the ground than the tent’s poles, there is a risk of unloading sparks from the tent.
As we can see, a tent provides little shelter from lightning.
If you can’t locate any shelter at all – as you could on a camping trip – choosing the correct campsite and adhering to the appropriate rules of conduct are essential. Also worth mentioning: Michael Bösiger, an outdoor specialist, offers advice on how to bivouack.
Encampment – which spot is least perilous during thunderstorm
In order to lessen the likelihood of being struck by lightning, you must take a few key precautions when setting up your encampment. Avoid high-exposure areas such as slopes, mountain crests, and river sides. When thunderstorms are in the forecast, you should not open your tent anywhere along the border of the forest or under any free-standing trees under any circumstances. Lightning is less likely to strike in highly populated areas of forest, on the other hand, than in other types of environments.
High quality tents by Tatonka
Tents in a variety of sizes and patterns may be found in our online store. Regarding the goods For example, if you don’t have enough time to find a suitable location for your camp or if a rainstorm is approaching, it may be more prudent to avoid erecting your tent altogether. Perhaps you’ll be able to discover an alpine chalet, a ledge, or a cave to shelter from the storm. The following is critical: metal equipment such as trekking poles, piolets, climbing irons, carabiners, but also kitchenware such as cookers, pots, and mugs, can attract lightning.
The same can be said about being adjacent to a via ferrata: the iron ladders and ropes used on the route conduct electricity exceptionally effectively.
Also worth mentioning: How to start a fire in the wilderness
Avoid oaks, look for beeches?
When a thunderstorm approaches, it is common knowledge that people should take shelter under an oak tree. However, this is complete rubbish. Lightning is attracted to all types of trees in equal measure. Although the effects of lightning on trees can vary, an oak’s rough, thick bark stores far more water than other types of trees. The fluid spreads out across a huge area of ground. If a lightning bolt should strike it, the resulting devastation is generally catastrophic. The water just pours down the surface of a beech’s level bark and into the ground underneath it.
In any case, the danger for individuals seeking refuge is the same for both types of people.
Also of interest: What kind of tent do you prefer?
How to behave in tent during thunderstorm
If it’s too late to get out of the tent and find a safe area, you might wish to explore the following alternatives:
- Do not make any contact with the tent’s frame or cover. Make an effort to remain in the thick of things
- Attempt to maintain the most compact squat stance possible. It is possible to avoid being electrocuted by touching the ground just in one location (step voltage). Never sit on the ground without a cushion. It is possible that a dry air mattress, numerous folded camping mats, or your bag might assist to improve insulation, allowing you to feel less grounded — while still keeping your hiking boots on. Identify and remove any wire that leads into the tent. More information may be found on the VDE website.
Safeguard your tent properly – not only against lightning
Lightning is not the only danger you and your tent need to be protected from; you also need to be protected from torrential rain and squalls. To begin, your tent should be sheltered from the elements such as wind. Those claimed safe havens, on the other hand, are fraught with perils of their own. Trees would be avoided at all costs. You may have a tree branch come away and fall upon your tent.
Additionally, keep an eye out for dead wood in the surrounding trees that might fall at any time. In the worst case scenario, the tree is completely uprooted. If you are aware of the direction of the wind in the region, you should pitch your tent in such a manner that it creates the smallest target.
A significant amount of water might potentially be detrimental to you and your tent. Contained water can overflow your tent and soak your belongings including your baggage and sleeping bag if you are camping in a depression. Additionally, you should stay away from swollen water and dried-up stream bed areas. Heavy rains may transform a stream bed into a torrential river, which, in the worst case scenario, can rip your tent from its stakes. Furthermore, before erecting your tent, carefully inspect the cliffs and slopes in the immediate vicinity.
Before you start, think about where the water may come from and where it might end up going.
Guessing the thunderstorm’s distance
What is the best way to determine the distance between a thunderstorm and you? Simply counting the seconds between the flashes of lightning and the thunder is the only guideline to follow. Multiply this number by 342 to get the answer (sonic speed). The result is the distance in meters between the thunderstorm and the observer. When there is 3 seconds of interval between lightning and thunder, it indicates that the thunderstorm is around 1 kilometer distant, for example. This indicates that it becomes harmful in 5 seconds or less.
- If the storm isn’t heading your way, you’ll be safe as soon as you can count at least 20 seconds between the onset of lightning and the beginning of thunder.
- And, if you’re fortunate, the thunderstorm will pass over you as quickly as it came close to catching you.
- There are 9 seconds between lightning and thunder.
- The time between lightning and thunder is three seconds: the thunderstorm is approximately one kilometer away, indicating that it is becoming dangerous.
- Also worth mentioning: Have you ever gone on a hiking excursion before?
Is it safe to camp in a thunderstorm?
While we would never recommend camping in the middle of a storm or in an open field, we do believe that if you go camping, you will encounter weather at some time. Dealing with weather is all about understanding the risks, learning how to manage and reduce them, and then actually enjoying yourself. When arranging a camping trip, take into consideration your tent, waterproofs, and a decent flaskof hot chocolate! We enlisted the help of Harry, our resident risk-taker, to conduct some investigation.
- Knowing the ins and outs of thunderous weather is therefore extremely useful information.
- However, and this is a major but, just because it’s a little humid and close, and there’s a scent of a storm in the air, doesn’t mean you should cancel your camping vacation right now.
- A friend of mine who has a 5 month child swears by it!
- In the wake of the electric storms that ravaged the United Kingdom, a BBC blog released in the wake of the storms offered some helpful advice.
- According to the British Medical Journal, winning the lottery has a considerably greater chance of occurring in the United Kingdom than being hit by lightning.
- In the same year, 29 individuals drowned in their bathtubs due to a mistaken assumption.
- By doing so, individuals increase their level of risk and feel anxious about stepping outside, even when it is completely safe to do so.
One of the driving concepts of Outdoor People is to ensure that we are accepting reasonable risks in exchange for good benefits.
Just give yourself a little more time to reevaluate your ideas.
Dark Skies is a really wonderful game, and it is uncannily true in our opinion.
Also, if a strong downpour is anticipated, make sure you aren’t tented in an area that might become inundated.
It doesn’t matter if the weather is pleasant where you’re camping; rivers can rise swiftly as a result of floodwater brought in by heavy rains further upstream.
Wind is significantly more dangerous than lightning in a large, heavy tent, therefore you should use extra hefty guys and double pegs to keep it from blowing away.
It was deafeningly loud.
But how can you know if it’s a significant violation of your rights?
Due to the fact that light travels faster than sound, you may relax if there are a few seconds between a lightning flash and the sound of thunder because the storm is not directly overhead.
You can tell whether a storm is approaching or receding by counting the seconds between lightning and a thunderclap, on the other hand.
You should get out of your tent if you’re camping in open terrain and immediately under a storm since tents offer little protection and metal ridgepoles may act as a lightning rod.
You should evacuate your Bell tent as soon as possible if you are in one during a storm.
So put on your full rain gear and head outdoors to enjoy the storm.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, your automobile is a fine place to park; however, avoid touching the handles (as they may carry electricity) and instead engage in a game of cards while you wait for the storm to pass.
If you are camping in the wilderness, it is recommended that you locate lower ground, such as a gully or a ravine, but not one that is likely to flood.
This is merely for the time being when the lightning is overhead.
However, it is better to be cautious than sorry.
Gas stoves are prone to blowing out in strong winds, but Ghillie Kettles thrive in them! These small suggestions are easy to remember and should help you feel a little more prepared the next time you hear thunder in the distance while curled up in your tent. In a nutshell, this is what happened:
- Simply enjoy it
- If there is a lot of lightning straight overhead, get out of your tent, if it is on low ground, in a car, or in a nearby structure and sit back and watch the show
- Check to be that you have adequate waterproofs, base layers, and headgear Before and after the eye of the storm, inspect the guy ropes for the expected wind that will blow through them
- And don’t forget to pack extra pegs.
If you loved this, would you mind making a donation to help us take families camping for the first time? Thank you for your consideration.
Camping in a Thunderstorm: What It’s Like and How to Stay Safe
Over the years, I’ve tented in the rain on a number of occasions (and written tips onhow to camp in the rainhere). Camping during a rainstorm, on the other hand, is a whole different scenario. During one of my hiking trips, it even HAILED for a while!
Thunderstorms Camping are Scary!
I’m not going to lie: camping during a thunderstorm may be a little frightening at times. Of course, because I’m camping with my small daughter, I’m not permitted to express my apprehension. I need to be cool and collected in order to prevent her from freaking out. Being a parent is a lot of joy, isn’t it? When a storm is building, the wind will build up around you and around your surroundings. The tent is being battered by the wind, which has become quite gusty. It manages to slip beneath the tent’s rain fly, causing it to flap rapidly back and forth.
- Increasingly strong winds are blowing as the thunderstorm approaches.
- When the lightning and thunder bolts get more closely spaced, you will know that the storm is directly over you.
- The storm is 1 mile distant for every 5 seconds that elapses between them.
- That brings us to the next question.
Is it safe to camp during a thunderstorm?
Both yes and no. In the world of statistics, there is no shortage of information that tells you things like “the risk of being hit by lightning is one in a million.” However, this does not rule out the possibility of being hit by lightning in the future. The likelihood of being struck by lightning is significantly higher in specific places. Furthermore, camping in an open field with tent poles virtually shouting out to the lightning is not a good idea in any circumstance.
On top of lightning, there are also these risks of camping in a thunderstorm:
- These are tree branches that can fall on your tent and perhaps kill you if they are not protected by a canopy. Tents should never be set up under dead or weakened limbs. The tent has been blown away: Some tents aren’t very aerodynamic in their design. These tents will get caught in the wind and carried away like a kite by the wind. WITH YOU SITTING RIGHT IN THE CENTER
- Getting wet in the process: Getting wet isn’t normally a significant concern for most people. However, if you are wet and all of your equipment becomes wet, you may become hypothermic.
Tips for Staying Safe Camping in Thunderstorms
The likelihood of something awful happening when camping in a rainstorm is quite minimal, assuming that you have prepared your tent for rain (see this page for instructions). However, this does not rule out the necessity of taking safeguards. What you need to do is as follows.
1. Chose a Lightning-Safe Camping Spot
A tent does not offer any protection from lightning. Many tents today are constructed with plastic or carbon fiber poles, which means that they will not “attract” lightning any more than the tent itself will (carbon fiber is still a conductor). Tents with aluminum or old-fashioned metal poles, on the other hand, might attract a lot of lightning. Lightning will attempt to go the shortest distance to the ground. Consequently, it is critical that your tent is not the highest point on the property.
If the tree is struck, you run the chance of being hurt by side flash.
As one traveler put it, “Lightning truly does cause tree bark / limbs to blow off and kill or harm people from the shrapnel,” according to him.
You have a far greater possibility of being struck by lightning if you are camping right on a ridgeline, so plan accordingly. Lightning will *almost always* make its way into the closet. In the Badlands National Park, a tree has been hit by lightning.
2. When the Thunderstorm is Brewing
If you have reason to believe that a thunderstorm is approaching, it is imperative that you take safety precautions!
- Get to lower ground as soon as possible, especially if you are above treeline or on a ridge. Check the guylines and stakes on your tent. If your tent isn’t already in a lightning-proof location, move it immediately. Don’t forget to put on your rain gear.
It’s important to remember that the weather may change QUICKLY, especially in the highlands. As a result, you should always arrange your journeys as though there would be a thunderstorm.
3. Go to a Safe Shelter
When the lightning and thunder are extremely near to one other, it indicates that a hazardous storm is approaching. If you have the opportunity, you should seek refuge in a safe haven. Keep in mind to go to your secure refuge BEFORE the storm is directly overhead you. When lightning is pouring down from above, you don’t want to come into contact with metal things such as door knobs! You should remain in your safe haven for at least 30 minutes, or until you no longer hear thunder. People who leave their shelters too quickly account for one-third of all lightning fatalities.
- Your car: Cars (but not convertibles) are far more secure than tents in terms of theft. It has nothing to do with the tires. Because the automobile works as a Faraday cage, the electrical current is diverted away from the individuals inside and travels around the outside of the car instead of reaching them. Just remember not to touch the door knobs and to keep your hands on your lap at all times. A neighboring structure that has electricity or plumbing: A camping bathroom is a fantastic alternative if you’re short on time.
The following are examples of Dangerous shelters:*These shelters are unsafe since there is no means to ground the power if the building is struck.
4. When There is No Safe Shelter
During thunderstorms, high-altitude areas such as mountains above treeline are extremely hazardous. In this setting, your tent poles will act as a strong conductor of electricity. The same may be said for big, flat expanses. Lightning will be attracted to your tent poles more than anything else in the area. In these cases, the optimum course of action is as follows:
- Particularly hazardous during thunderstorms are areas such as mountains above treeline. This atmosphere will require a high level of conductivity from your tent poles. Large, flat regions have the same effect. Lightning will be attracted to your tent poles more than anything else in the area! It is preferable to perform the following in certain circumstances:
*There’s some debate as to whether you should leave your tent during a thunderstorm.
Unless you’re in a high-risk environment (such as above treeline) or using outdated metal poles, the danger inside your tent shouldn’t be significantly higher than the risk outside your tent. In addition, the inside of the tent will be significantly dryer. When my daughter and I were camping in the middle of a rainstorm, we opted to stay inside the tent. It was already late at night, and the location was about as safe as you could possibly hope for: a very low valley with no towering trees in the way.
As a result, my daughter and I exited the tent and sat in our rain gear to watch the storm from a more secure location.
In addition, camping in this area during a thunderstorm is not recommended.
5. Insulate Yourself from the Ground
The majority of lightning-related injuries do not result from direct impacts. Rather, it is the ground impact that most individuals are affected by. The earth has the ability to carry electricity over a distance of more than 10 meters from where lightning struck. Some persons were hurt even though they were more than 30 meters distant from the location where the lightning hit. Do not, under any circumstances, lie down on the ground! Your entire body will be exposed to the ground as a result of this.
In the story of a mother who survived a lightning strike while camping, her child was sleeping on a foam pad inside her tent when the lightning struck the campsite.
While the infant was alright, there were certain sections of the tent where metal things had been scorched, which made it difficult to see.
Unfortunately, lightning struck the observation tower in July 2019, causing it to burn down. It only goes to demonstrate how regular lightning strikes are in some parts of the world.
6. If Camping in a Large Group, Spread Out
In the event that your tents are all gathered together, they will draw a great deal of lightning. However, if a storm is approaching and you are in an inconvenient location, you should be out of your tents immediately. The underlying reason for spreading out is that it will make it less likely that everyone will be struck by lightning as a result of doing so. If only one person is struck, the others will be able to offer first aid and get assistance. Furthermore, if you are spread out, there is less chance of the lightning striking one person and then another person.
Other Random Tips for Camping in Thunder and Lightning Storms:
- Bell tents should be avoided because they feature a pole in the centre that may be used as a lighting rod. Standing in water is not recommended since the water conducts electricity. The difference between wet and dry ground does not make a difference in terms of safety
- Hammocks are not safe for use: Despite the fact that they provide protection against electric transported by the ground, a tree can still be struck and explode into flames. No contact of metal items is permitted: Even if it isn’t large enough to attract lightning, it will be a good conductor of electricity and might cause you to burn. Crouching with your ankles together is a good idea: This implies that electrical current will remain in the ankles rather than traveling up one ankle, into the body, and out the other ankle as is the case in most cases.
The key line: Always prepare your camp as though the worst case scenario is possible. There’s no need to panic; instead, simply be cautious. Regardless of whether or not a thunderstorm occurs while camping, you will be certain that you did all necessary to keep safe and will have a nice tale to tell your friends and family later.
By the way, did you know I wrote a book?
On this page, you will learn how to cook badass, lightweight, and delicious hiking meals with your dehydrator. There’s also a ton of information on how to prepare meals when hiking. Here’s where you can grab the book for half off! And, as you can see below, part of my trail food is prepared. Get your copy of the book here. Have a great time camping!
Tents and lightning can be a lethal combination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy spending time in nature. Knowing when to seek safe or “safer” shelter is an important part of lightning risk reduction during thunderstorm season. It is July, and the weather is hot and humid. The dog days of summer have come in, and so has lightning. And if you happen to be a camping aficionado, or a visitor at an outdoor event, odds are that you may find yourself inside a tent and in the thick of an impending rainstorm.
- So what do we need to know about tents and lightning safety?
- John Gookin, author of National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Lightning, differs depending on whether we are in a “frontcountry” or a “backcountry” environment.
- It’s important to emphasize that these poles do not provide any type of lightning protection or lightning safety for occupants.
- Once the storm has safely passed you can feel safe to resume your outdoor activities or return to the tent setting.
- Unfortunately, tent safety during a thunderstorm in the backcountry can be extremely challenging.
- When reviewing lightning safety options for tent occupants in the backcountry, NOLS emphasizes the following: ·Schedule camping excursions in accordance with local weather patterns, avoiding times when thunderstorms are in the forecast.
- ·Seek lower terrain and ravines for tent sites when possible.
Anticipating the hazard, erring on the side of caution and having a pre-arranged plan of action can greatly reduce your risk of being a lightning victim.
Gookin writes:“ Lightning struck Lookout Point near the tent a 6:52 p.m.
Cowan, however was lying down and killed instantly.
El Paso Country Search and Rescue responded.” Gookin describes how a NOAA meteorologist visited the scene and found evidence of multiple tears on the floor of the tent, but no other damage.
A summary Gookin’s “Lessons Learned” fr om the tragic event include these takeaways:·The campers were 100 yards from parked vehicles which potentially could have provided safe shelter.
·When designing locations for campsites, park and recreational planners should consider the lightning hazard and post signage indicating the potential for dangerous thunderstorms, when appropriate.
The vast majority of lightning deaths and injuries occur when peopledon’tactto take shelter,don’t knowto take shelter orleave sheltertoo early.
Too often, we see individuals hunkering down in unsafe, outdoor “shelters” like tents, cabins, pavilions, porches, canopies and stadium dugouts during thunderstorms–behavior the LSA Team is working to combat by continually emphasizing the importance of finding a lightning safe “place” rather than a “shelter.” Please helpLPIand the National Lightning Safety Council build lightning safe communities by sharing this timely reminder about tents and lightning safety.
For more lightning safety and risk reduction resources, visit.
When a Safe Building or Vehicle is Nearby
Lightning-Provided Resources In the event that you are caught outside during a thunderstorm, there is nothing you can do to significantly lower your danger. The only activity that is fully safe is to enter a secure facility or vehicle.
+ Plan Ahead
Your little league team has a game scheduled for the evening at the local leisure park. The weather prediction predicts for partly overcast skies throughout the day, with a risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon. When you first arrive in the park, you’ll note that the bathrooms are the only facilities that appear to be secure. Shortly after sunset, the sky begins to become hazy, and dazzling bursts of light may be seen in the sky. What should you do in this situation? Please get everyone into their vehicles or into the bathrooms as soon as possible.
Once you’ve reached a safe location, wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap before returning to the game.
+ At the Beach or Lake
Your family has decided to take a trip to the beach today. The weather prediction predicts a pleasant morning, followed by a 30 percent probability of thunderstorms in the late afternoon. When you get at the beach, you will see that the only structures in the immediate vicinity are open-sided picnic shelters. The parking lot is located around 5 minutes walk from the beach. By early afternoon, the sky has darkened and thunder can be heard in the distance. What should you do in this situation? Get in your vehicle!
Before returning to the beach, wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap has rolled across the area.
+ Camping, Climbing and Other Wilderness Activities
The rumbles of thunder can be heard in the distance as you’re preparing dinner on the camp stove. Your tent and a huge open-sided picnic shelter are both within walking distance of each other. Your vehicle is about a quarter of a mile away, parked near the trail’s starting point. What should you do in this situation? Drive over to your automobile! The tent and picnic shelter are not safe locations to be in during an emergency. Continue waiting for at least 30 minutes after the final rumbling of thunder before returning to the campgrounds.
When a safe location is not readily available If you are unable to escape to safety, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of getting hit by lightning by following the recommendations below.
Make yourself familiar with the weather patterns of the location you intend to visit.
Watch alert for any changes in weather conditions for the outdoor place you intend to visit. It is possible that the prediction in your area will be significantly different. If there is a strong likelihood of thunderstorms, it is best to remain indoors.
- Avoid wide fields, the summit of a hill, or the crest of a ridge. Keep a safe distance between yourself and tall, solitary trees or other tall objects. Stay near a lower stand of trees if you’re in a wooded area. You should spread out if you are in a group in order to avoid the current traveling between group members
- If you’re camping in an open region, consider setting up camp in a valley, ravine, or other low-lying location. It’s important to remember that a tent provides no shelter from lights. Maintain a safe distance from water and wet goods such as ropes, as well as from metal objects such as fences and poles. Even though water and metal are not attracted to lightning, they are great carriers of electrical current. The electricity generated by a lightning flash may readily travel large distances
When riding a bicycle, motorbike, or dirt bike, you should wear protective gear. Make use of a portable NOAA weather radio or tune in to commercial radio stations. You should pull over and wait 30 minutes after the last rumbling of thunder before continuing your journey if you are near a safe structure and you see ominous skies in the distance.
+ On the Water
On small boats without a cabin, the great majority of lightning-related injuries and deaths on the water occur. When you are boating, it is critical that you pay attention to weather reports. If thunderstorms are anticipated, avoid leaving the house. If you find yourself out on the water and unable to return to land and safety, drop anchor and dive as low as you possibly can. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems that have been correctly built, or metal maritime vessels are generally considered to be relatively safe vessels.
Unless it is an emergency, avoid listening to the radio!
+ Scuba Divers
If the boat you are on does not have a cabin that you can retreat to during a lightning storm, it is safer to dive deep into the water for the length of the storm or for as long as feasible.
During thunderstorms, cave openings are extremely perilous. Arcs can pass through small overhangs if the gap is not too large. Whether via the cave entrance or through the earth, even the deepest caverns may be penetrated by a single bolt of lightning. Going deep inside a cave helps to boost your safety to a certain extent. Avoid touching metal, standing in water, and touching both the cave roof and floor once you’ve gotten as far into the cave as you possibly can. More information may be found here.
- Lightning Risk Management for Backcountry Campers and Hikers
- Lightning and Outdoor Sports
- Lightning Safety on the Job
- Lightning Risk Management for Backcountry Campers and Hikers
Do Tents Attract Lightning? Guide to Camping During Thunderstorms!
In recent years, I’m sure you’ve pondered if your delicate shelter is prone to getting struck by lightning when out camping in the middle of a thunderstorm. Despite how frightening they may appear, being inside a tent poses the same risks as being outside in the open field. Tents do not attract lightning on their own, however this does not imply that they are safe during a thunderstorm. The likelihood of a tent being struck by lightning is raised by the location of the campground and the presence of nearby tall objects.
If you’re camping on a ridgetop, you’ll have a greater probability of being struck by a lightning storm.
What about tent poles?
Currently, the vast majority of tent poles are constructed of carbon fiber or plastic, which do not transfer electricity in any way at all. As a result, they pose the same threat to the tent as the tent itself. It is possible to raise the danger slightly if you are using old aluminum or other metal poles, but this is unlikely to be significant. Choosing a place where your tent poles will not be the highest items in the vicinity will become necessary in this situation. Another thing to keep in mind while using metal tent poles: don’t try to insulate the pole at the bottom, since this will work against you if you’re unfortunate enough to get struck by lightning.
It is critical that the energy be directed into the ground rather than finding a stop and hopping to the nearest conductor as is often the case. By the way, you’re going to be the one in charge.
How to safely camp during a thunderstorm
Normally, everyone would warn you not to camp during a thunderstorm, and they would be correct. This is not always possible, however, because we find ourselves surrounded by a thunderstorm in 99 percent of the situations, even if we did not go out looking for a thunderstorm to begin with. If you sense a storm approaching, there are certain critical measures that you must do immediately:
- Confirm that your campground is at the correct location: Take a look around to verify if your tent is situated on the tallest point. If this is the case, shift as soon as possible to a lower portion of that location. Keep your distance from towering trees: Tall trees are more likely to be struck by lightning, and the great strength of the bolt can either knock them down or illuminate them. If anything like this happens, you don’t want to be anywhere near it. In places where boots are worn and a low sitting posture is adopted: In the event that lightning hits close to you, even if your bare feet are not touching the ground, this can be quite deadly.
Please read our post for additional information on how to camp in the rain and other useful advice.
Lightning proof tents
If you’re still concerned that your tent is a safety hazard and want to hunt for a safe alternative, there aren’t many options available. The design of a lightning-proof tent is still in the prototype stage at the time of this writing, but students are now working on it. Here’s an illustration of what this tent would look like. It has several unique characteristics, some of which are as follows:
- Wooden pegs
- Aluminum poles (which, curiously enough, I believe are intended to carry potential electricity into the ground)
- Lightweight material
- Insufficient space to lay down and sleep (it can only be used during the daylight)
- Only used during the daytime.
Is this really what you’re searching for, or do you have another idea? This design is very certainly the product of a student who is phobic of thunderstorms in general. The Bolt Tent, on the other hand, is a fantastic name for a tent. I’m still not sure how this tent will protect me if I’m caught in a thunderstorm and struck by lightning.
Tent shapes and lightning protection
There is minimal evidence to suggest that the design of a tent has any effect on the likelihood of a lightning strike occurring. A similar statement might be made regarding the cloth from which they’re fashioned. One thing to keep in mind is that the pole in the centre of a Bell tent (which is generally constructed of metal) might behave as a lightning rod, so you should avoid using these if possible. Unfortunately, there is no additional tent lightning protection that you can purchase in order to make them more secure from lightning strikes.
Despite the fact that your chances of being hit by lightning when camping in the wilderness are extremely low (about 1 in 1.000.000 each year and 1 in 3000 over the course of your lifetime), you should make every effort to organize your outings in accordance with the prediction. Because none of the tents will provide you with additional protection, there is no need to hunt for a specific sort of tent.
How to Stay Safe in a Lightning Storm While Camping
Hikers in the woods are well aware that even a gentle rain has the potential for something hazardous. Lightning is a major threat that should be treated very seriously at all times. To begin with, it’s better to avoid being outside during a lightning storm if at all possible. If you sense a storm approaching, check the forecast and consider modifying your activities or returning home earlier than planned. However, if you do find yourself caught in a storm, it is feasible to reduce and manage the danger by following practical lightning safety techniques and precautions.
According to NOLS, the following are the current best practices for lightning safety. These suggestions are relevant in a variety of terrains and have been shown to greatly lower the risk of harm.
- Avoid standing too close to any item that is twice as tall as the surrounding environment. This may be anything from a shrub in the desert to a telephone pole to a Douglas fir in an Aspen forest, among other things. 50 meters is a safe distance to maintain. Exclude yourself from lengthy conductors like as metal fences or pipelines, or even damp rope. Remove any and all metal things from your bag, including backpack stays, crampons, fishing poles, and climbing gear. Do not immerse yourself in water
- Most key, arrange your activities so that you will not be exposed to thunderstorms. Investigate seasonal weather patterns and keep a look out for changes in circumstances the day prior
Understanding Lightning Position
Image courtesy of NPS.org There is a prescribed posture you should take if you are in a high-danger area during a lightning storm, similar to the phrase “Duck and Cover.” It is preferable to use the lightning posture during a storm if racing to a shelter places you on exposed terrain. This will lower your chance of ground current injury or direct hit. Ground current occurs when the voltage between two points of contact (your feet) varies, causing the current to flow through your body. It is responsible for approximately 50% of all lightning-related fatalities and injuries.
In order to avoid becoming twice the height of any surrounding objects, stoop down over your feet and wrap your arms over your knees.
If you are going in a group, keep at least 50 meters between you and the rest of the group, which is the distance between the average ‘leader’ charge.
Continue to hold the lightning posture until the storm has gone and no thunder can be heard any longer.
Lightning Safety in Varied Terrain
The topography above the treeline, such as mountain summits, ridges, and other high-risk places, increases the likelihood of attracting a return current or a lightning strike. It is especially deadly during the summer months, especially in the semi-arid Rockies, when afternoon thunderstorms occur on a frequent basis, resulting in a perfect storm that creates exceptionally lethal lightning conditions. The majority of these storms occur between 1 and 2 p.m., but it is not uncommon for them to appear earlier in the day.
You should turn around quickly if you hear thunder over treeline and return to the relative safety of treeline, where the height of the trees is more consistent and you are not the tallest thing in the area.
This is known as a corona, and it occurs when you notice sparks flying off metal things or when your hair begins to raise.
In this scenario, remove all metal objects from your possession and take the lightning stance as rapidly as possible.
The importance of getting out of the tent and moving at least 50 meters away from the camp site in the case of a storm cannot be overstated. Once the storm has passed, it is necessary to remain in the lightning posture until the storm has gone.
Rolling HillsGentle Terrain
If the ground is flat and the topology is smooth, lightning strikes in this area are quite random. If you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately; nevertheless, if a storm is approaching, take the lightning posture to protect yourself.
You should relocate more than 50 meters away from all long conductors, such as fences or irrigation pipes, if you are out in an open field during an approaching lightning storm. Make certain that you stay away from items that are twice as tall as you are, such as trees or telephone poles, by the same distance. Keep your posture as if you were lightning and wait for the storm to pass.
Although lone trees can be exceedingly deadly, uniform canopy forests are significantly less likely to be struck by lightning than are lone trees. Keep a safe distance away from the trunks of giant trees, although it is preferable to be under such cover than to be out in the elements.
It is highly vulnerable to lightning strikes when boating on flat water like lakes, vast rivers, or the open ocean. Plan your aquatic activities around the weather prediction, and if you hear thunder in the distance, go to shore as soon as you can to avoid being caught in the storm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives the following recommendations for flat water boating.
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Lightning safety: camping – Canada.ca
- Tenting, backcountry camping, camp trailers, and recreational vehicles are all options.
Lightning strikes more than two million times a year in Canada, with a lightning strike occurring around once every three seconds during the more intense summer months. In Canada, the summer camping season is one of the most anticipated events, but it is also the time of year when lightning-related injuries and deaths are at their greatest rates. In the United States, more than 65 percent of lightning-related injuries and deaths occur when individuals are engaged in outdoor recreational activities.
According to research, a lightning bolt that strikes the ground can be lethal up to a distance of 10 metres.
In the event of a lightning storm, lying on the ground in a tent would increase the likelihood of getting injured.
If the red danger zones are in or are nearing your location, seek cover immediately and remain there for at least 30 minutes following the last thunderclap.
Place your tent away from any metal fences and away from the tallest tree possible. Do not pitch your tent on a hilltop or beneath an isolated or tall tree. This appears to be an ideal location for a tent. However, because of the higher land and the solitary tree next to the tent, this would not be a safe spot to be in during a storm.
When you hear thunder, you may be sure that lightning is close at hand. Find a safe position as soon as possible, whether it’s in a structure with plumbing and electrical or in an all-metal vehicle. (not convertible top). Your tent does not provide adequate protection.
Unsafe buildings include:
- Picnic shelters with open sides that do not have a mechanism of grounding a lightning strike Lightning strikes can strike outhouses because they do not have wiring or plumbing to ground the lightning strike.
If you are stuck outside and away from a safe area, keep away from tall items such as trees, poles, wires, and fences, which can be extremely dangerous. Take refuge in a shady, low-lying spot. Keep yourself in a safe position for at least 30 minutes following the last thunderclap. Approximately one-third of casualties occur after a storm as a result of individuals returning to outdoor activities too soon after the storm.
Back Country Camping
In the backcountry, it would be difficult to find a safe site, such as a structure with electrical and plumbing or a car with which to hide. The following are some recommendations to help lessen the likelihood of being struck by lightning when out in the wilderness. During a thunderstorm, on the other hand, there is no safe location to be outside.
- Keep an eye on the weather and be aware of when storms are brewing in your region. Consider moving away from high-risk regions such as ridges and higher hills as soon as possible before a thunderstorm strikes. If you hear thunder while climbing on a mountain or ridge that is exposed, go to lower ground as soon as possible. If possible, stay away from open regions that are 100 yards broad or wider. Before a storm starts, look for a dry ravine or depression to hide in and spread out to lessen the likelihood of numerous injuries. In the event of a lightning strike nearby, stay away from trees with huge trunks.
It is common for mountainous terrain or windy circumstances to shorten the distance over which thunder may be heard. Prepare ahead of time, keep an eye on the sky for impending thunderstorms, and move to a safer location to lessen the chances of getting hit by lightning.
Camp Trailers or RV’s
Avoid parking your trailer or recreational vehicle (RV) beneath a single tree or the tallest tree in the area, near a metal fence, or on a hillside. If thunder can be heard, it is likely that lightning is close at hand. Find a safe position as soon as possible, whether it’s in a structure with plumbing and electrical or in an all-metal vehicle. (not convertible top). Thunderbolts will go around the exterior of a metal-framed car, therefore preventing electrical shock to those who are within the vehicle.
Passengers will be protected so long as they do not come into contact with the exterior metal shell, for example, by touching interior elements such as the steering wheel, radio knob or door handle.
Unsafe vehicles include:
- Pop-up campers with fabric-like sides
- Pop-up tents with fabric-like sides. Fiberglass recreational vehicles (RVs). A lightning strike will pass through the car without causing any damage. An RV constructed of steel or aluminum is acceptable
RVs can also be harmed by lightning if they are linked to a power grid (shore power) or if their jacks are left out on the ground during a lightning storm, according to the National Weather Service. If you are stuck outside and away from a safe area, keep away from tall items such as trees, poles, wires, and fences, which can be extremely dangerous. Take refuge in a shady, low-lying spot. Keep yourself in a safe position for at least 30 minutes following the last thunderclap. Approximately one-third of casualties occur after a storm as a result of individuals returning to outdoor activities too soon after the storm.
The charred remains of a pine tree that was struck by lightning.
The information on this page was compiled from a variety of sources, which are listed below.
- Sporting Injury Caused by Lightning (Michael Cherington, 2001)
- Safety in the Presence of Lightning- Holle R.L. et al. 1995
- Safety in the Presence of Lightning- Lopez RE et al. 1995
- Lightning can inflict death and injury in the proximity of trees, according to Holle RL
- The National Outdoor Leadership School’s Backcountry Lightning Safety Guidelines, according to John Gookin, Curriculum Manager.