How To Stay Safe In A Tent During A Thunderstorm

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:

  • *DO NOT BRING YOUR TENT: The tent will just serve to attract illumination. Put on your waterproof clothing and get to a lower elevation. Get off any hills or high points as soon as possible
  • Attempt to locate a dry ravine or depression
  • Don’t stand too close to towering trees or other things.

*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

The majority of lightning-related injuries do not occur as a direct result of a lightning strike. More often than not, it is the ground attack that is the most dangerous. The earth has the ability to carry electricity over a distance of more than 10 meters from where lightning strikes it. More than 30 meters distant from where the lightning hit, several persons were struck and hurt. Under no circumstances should you sit on the ground. As a result, the earth will be exposed to your full body. A foam sleeping pad or other form of insulation is recommended in the best case.

This was a huge surprise to all of the other members of the family who were on the ground.

Park Butte Lookout in Washington State has a lightning seat for crouching on since lightning is so prevalent there.

In some areas, lightning strikes are quite prevalent, as seen by this incident:

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!


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.

  • 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 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.

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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.

If only one person is struck by lightning, the lightning will not spread to anybody else in the vicinity. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. This is known as a corona, and it occurs when you notice sparks flying off metal things or when your hair begins to raise.
  3. In this scenario, remove all metal objects from your possession and take the lightning stance as rapidly as possible.
  4. 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.

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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Don’t Get Struck: How to Stay Safe While Camping in a Thunderstorm

A brief but ferocious rainstorm caught me off guard last week while I camped beside the Spanish River in northern California. Thunder could be heard in the distance while we were approximately two kilometers from our tent. Instead of spending any more time on the water, we decided to set up camp at an earlier location. During the process of putting up the tent and gathering firewood, the thunder became louder and more frequent. An instant later, there was a flash of lightning, a thunderclap, and a torrential shower of rain all occurring at the same time.

and the lightning was just overhead.

For many years, thunderstorms were my greatest concern when I was out in nature.

what are you supposed to do?

There was no apparent answer to the problem of thunderstorms, which could be summarized as “don’t be near trees, but don’t be out in the open, and don’t be in your tent, but don’t be without cover.” Because lightning is unpredictable and the only completely safe place to be during a thunderstorm is inside a building, this is one of the most important reasons for staying indoors during a thunderstorm.

  • However, if you camp in the outdoors on a regular basis, you will almost certainly face thunderstorms.
  • In this piece, I’ll go over what makes lightning hazardous (hint: it’s not what you think), where to run when lightning is close by, and whether or not you should stay in your tent while lightning is nearby.
  • If you choose to make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may get a small compensation at no additional cost to yourself.
  • You may find out more about me by reading my complete disclosure statement.

Interestingly enough, a close friend of a friend happened to get struck by lightning while sitting on her porch! She, on the other hand, is completely fine!

Understanding the Dangers of Lightning

If you’re camping in a rainstorm, lightning strikes are the most well-known threat. In the next section, I go into more depth on the many sorts of lightning strikes. A lightning strike is really one of the rarest ways to die in the woods, yet it is also one of the most dramatic. A research conducted in Australia looked at weather-related mortality between 2006 and 2010 and discovered that just 6% of deaths were caused by extreme weather occurrences (floods, storms and lightning). Cold exposure, on the other hand, was shown to be responsible for 63 percent of all weather-related deaths in remote areas.

This is true even during a rainstorm since it is so simple to become hypothermic when you are exposed to the elements for an extended amount of time while wet.

Lightning, floods, and severe winds have the ability to bring down shelters and trees, putting you and others in harm’s way.

Getting Struck By Lightning

If you think about being hit by lightning, you probably think about it as being struck squarely in the face. Although this is a frequent method of being struck by lightning, it is really one of the least prevalent. I discovered an organization that analyzed different sorts of lightning strikes based on the number of people who were hospitalized as a result of the strikes. Step Voltage lightning strikes were the most prevalent form of lightning strike, accounting for almost 50% of all hospitalizations.

  1. When you walk, electricity goes up one foot and down the other.
  2. An example of this is when lightning strikes a nearby item (for example, a tree), and electricity spreads from the affected thing to other adjacent objects (i.e.
  3. This is why you should avoid being in close proximity to the highest item, such as a gazebo on a field.
  4. We normally think of lightning as falling down from the sky to strike the ground, but lightning may also go from a grounded item to the sky if there is enough electrical buildup in the ground to for it to travel.
  5. Hospitalizations are the outcome of a human becoming an Upward Leader in between 10% and 15% of all hospitalizations.
  6. It is estimated that just 3-5 percent of hospitalizations are the result of a Direct Strike, which occurs when lightning strikes you straight from the sky.
  7. Finally, Contact Voltage is the most common cause of lightning-related hospitalizations, accounting for 3-5 percent of all hospitalizations.
  8. water or a platform).

the lightning strikes the ground around you, throwing you into a nearby tree). As a result, the vast majority of lightning strikes are caused by lightning striking the ground or striking a nearby item, rather than striking a person.

How to Stay Safe While Camping in a Thunderstorm

It has been noted previously that when camping during a thunderstorm, there are three things that you should consider.

  1. The following are examples of lightning-related deaths: being struck by lightning (in any of the ways indicated above)
  2. Developing hypothermia as a result of exposure
  3. Being crushed under an object.

Get into a Safe Shelter or Vehicle

It is always safer to be in a huge building during a thunderstorm than any other type of structure. The wire from the power and plumbing systems takes the electricity from the building to the ground, preventing it from traveling through the rooms within the structure itself. Likewise, these structures are often constructed of materials that are robust enough to withstand a lightning strike without sustaining structural damage. The next safest site would be a fully contained tiny facility with plumbing and power, such as a comfort station at a campground or a ranger station, which would be ideal (for reasons similar to those listed in the previous paragraph).

As long as your automobile has a metal roof, you should be fine (i.e.

In this case, the metal frame of your automobile serves as a Faraday Cage, which is a term used to describe an item that conducts current from a point of contact to the earth.

Avoid touching the steering wheel or doors, since they are linked to the frame and should not be touched.

Avoid Being the Tallest Object in the Area

It’s never a good feeling to be the tallest item in the room. In other words, if you are camping on a mountaintop above the timberline, you will need to descend to the protection of the forest canopy. In the same way, you should avoid being in the center of a field or the middle of the desert. Being the tallest object in the vicinity puts you at risk of being struck directly or by an upward leader. In the woods, it is in a forest that you will be the safest.

  • Avoid becoming the highest thing (for example, above the treeline, in a desert, on a gravel bar, in a field)

Avoid Being Next to the Tallest Objects in the Area

If you’re camping during a rainstorm, avoid setting up near the highest trees in the forest since this puts you at danger of side flash flooding (the electricity jumps from the object to you). Additionally, avoid being inside or near an open structure like as a gazebo or shed that is not well secured. These constructions, in contrast to a tiny building with electricity and plumbing, will not allow power to be transmitted to the earth. Instead of traveling through the structure, the energy will leap to a neighboring item as well as traveling through the structure.

In a similar vein, if the lightning strike is strong enough to cause the tree to fall or the shelter to collapse, you might be crushed by the thing that falls.

  • A towering object, such as a lone tree, should be avoided when seeking refuge.

Avoid Prolonged Exposure

The combination of being wet and chilly can result in hypothermia, even in the summer (I have personally experienced this). Make sure you have rain gear. If it’s feasible, cover yourself with an emergency blanket or tarp to keep the rain off your back and shoulders. The majority of outdoor educators, including myself, do not advocate that groups huddle under a tarp (see the point below). If you are alone and have a tarp placed up away from the highest trees, you may sit underneath it if you are not afraid of heights.

As soon as the storm is done, it’s vital to change out of your wet clothes and into dry ones as soon as possible. When you are wearing wet clothing, heat is transferred 25 times faster than when you are wearing dry clothing, and you will become extremely chilly very soon.

Stay Away from Other People

It is not necessary for everyone to congregate in the same place. If lightning hits close to where you are, it is possible that everyone may be struck, resulting in several injuries. The others in the group can assist if one of them is struck or hurt while everyone else is isolated from him or her.

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Put Something Between You and the Ground

An insulator should be placed between you and the ground in order to avoid step voltage, which is the most common cause of harm. A great deal of dispute exists over the insulating efficiency of various items, and none of them are without flaws. Insulation can be achieved by using a closed-cell or inflated sleeping pad as a general rule of thumb. Folding it in half to increase the thickness is an option if it is possible. Do not lie down on the pad; instead, crouch. Similarly, some outdoor specialists believe that a life jacket can serve as a suitable insulation in some situations.

Get Off the Water

Friends in canoes and kayaks, please get off the water as soon as possible – even if you aren’t yet at your campground. Because you are the tallest item on the water, and because water conducts electricity, you are the tallest object on the water. This puts you at risk of being struck directly, being pushed upward, or being injured by another person. If at all possible, get off the river and into the trees.

Can you Stay in your Tent During a Thunderstorm?

This is likely the most often asked question when it comes to camping during a thunderstorm. And everyone is looking for a rapid response – should you stay in your tent or not? Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer since. well, it depends. People frequently respond with “No,” claiming that the metal poles of a tent behave as lightning rods. This has been proved to be untrue. When determining if anything is at a higher danger of being hit by lightning, the material has very little to do with it and a great deal to do with its height.

Lightning is just as likely to strike your tent as it is to strike you personally.

Which of the following is more likely to be struck by lightning and a) generate a side flash, or b) tumble down if struck by lightning?

  • This is an example of where you should not set your tent during a rainstorm (it’s really a bit of an illusion – the tent isn’t exactly beneath the path of the tree, but rather behind it)

Are you camped on a mountain, in a field, in the desert, or in a clearing? Where are you camped? If such is the case, it is probable that your tent is the highest structure in the area. Leave your tent and seek cover in a woody location if the weather continues to deteriorate. What is the total number of persons in your group? There isn’t much room to move around in a tent when there are several people sharing it. If something happens to the tent, you’ll all be struck. First aid becomes far more difficult as a result of this.

The combination of pouring rain and blowing wind can rapidly get you chilly and wet.

In the event that you decide to stay in your tent, make sure to use your sleeping pad (which you can fold in half to make it twice as thick) and keep your feet up rather than lying down on the ground.

In the case of a nearby lightning strike, you limit the surface area of your body that comes into touch with the ground.

Camping in a Thunderstorm – Final Thoughts

Don’t be concerned if you read the post above and found it to be a little overwhelming. When camping during a thunderstorm, adhere to the following golden rules:

  • Don’t be the tallest thing in the vicinity, or don’t stand close to one that is
  • As much as possible, try to place something insulating between you and the ground. Make every effort to be warm and dry
  • Remove yourself from the water or mountain

Being hit by lightning is extremely unusual, and the vast majority of lightning strikes do not result in death (and many do not even cause significant harm). It is recommended that you take a wilderness first aid training if you are still concerned about camping in a rainstorm. Most courses will educate you about the recommended practices described above, as well as how to administer first aid in the event that someone is hit by lightning, among other things.

Related Posts on Camping Skills

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 during a thunderstorm: How to stay safe, when to leave

This post includes affiliate links for your convenience. Camping is one of my favorite pastimes, but when I think about lightning and thunderstorms, I become a little nervous. Camping and getting hit by lightning are two of my greatest fears, therefore I avoid them at all costs. When you’re surrounded by material rather than solid brick walls, you feel more vulnerable. It is critical to be aware of the simple ways in which you may safeguard yourself and your family when camping. During a thunderstorm, it is not recommended that you remain inside your tent.

Avoid camping near trees, high land, or open places; instead, seek refuge in a structure or vehicle at a facility.

It is during the spring and summer months when thunderstorms are most prevalent.

Before going on a vacation, check the weather forecast, be aware of potential hazards and how to be safe, including where to pitch your tent, which locations to avoid, and how to prepare to leave your tent if required.

Stay or leave your tent during a thunderstorm?

Tent camping in the midst of a thunderstorm Despite the fact that it is not recommended, many individuals choose to remain in their tents during thunderstorms. Precautions must be taken if you plan to stay in your tent for an extended period of time. The presence of a tent will not directly draw lights, but it will be affected by the surrounding environment. Lightning will strike the tallest point it can find, which is typically trees and power lines. You are more at danger of having your tent struck by lightning if you are pitching it in the midst of open terrain or at the top of a hill.

  1. Many individuals do not consider the hazards of pitching a tent under a tree or near a fence, which may be quite dangerous.
  2. I had completely forgotten about the hazards of lightning until now.
  3. Although normal British weather can never be guaranteed to be 100 percent reliable, it is always a good idea to have a few backup plans in place in case the worst happens.
  4. There is also a risk of harm from neighboring trees being struck by lightning, falling branches, side flashes, ground currents, and conduction, as well as from falling objects.
  5. When lightning strikes a tent, energy does not discharge around the exterior of the tent in the same way as it does around a car.

The energy will flow directly to the earth, where it will leave a charge on the ground. If you intend to remain in your rental property during a thunderstorm, you must take the following measures.

  • Move things away from the sides of the room
  • Do not lean against the tent’s sides. Do not come into contact with poles. Remove any electrical equipment from the premises and do not use them. Maintain your position on the rubber matting in the centre of the tent.

Electrical goods such as mobile phones and televisions must be unplugged from the mains power supply. While using a mobile phone is safe, doing so while charging is not. A residual current device (RCD) is installed in your camping EHU to protect you from electrocution, however it does not protect you against electrical lightning surges. A campground does not always provide you with a choice of camping sites while you are on site camping. If you are not satisfied with the pitch, you should request that it be changed, especially if thunderstorms are predicted.

What to do if you are camping no shelter or vehicle: Safety

Maintaining safety during a lightning storm when there is no shelter During a lightning storm, being out in the open, on high terrain, or without finding cover is extremely perilous. It is critical that you maintain the least amount of touch with the ground as possible and should not lay down, as doing so increases your risk of damage and even death. Crouch down with your feet together and with no other portion of your body contacting the ground, if possible. Place your hands together in front of your knees and your head towards them.

See also:  What Is A Car Tent

Keep in mind that lightning can still strike within a six-mile radius of the location.

Are tents at a higher risk of attracting lightning: Tent poles, air tents and flag poles

The poles of a tent do not attract lightning, however depending on where you pitch your tent, canPoled or air tents will not draw lightning directly. Carbon fiber poles will attract lightning, although not as much as aluminum poles, and the position of a pitched structure is more essential than the material of the poles themselves. If you pitch your tent beneath or near a tree, you run a greater danger of lightning leaping to your tent and striking it with side flash lighting. The tallest item attracts the most light, and a tent is insignificant in comparison to the surrounding natural objects.

Increasing the likelihood of the energy being spread by ground currents or flash lightning is dangerous.

Understanding the basics of lightning can save your life

There are several different types of lightning strikes. According to information obtained from the National Weather Service, there are six different types of lightning strikes. When we are all familiar with the direct impact lightning strike, it is vital to be aware of the other forms of lightning that might occur while camping. These will have an impact on your safety and your decision on whether or not to remain in your tent or seek shelter.

Side flash lightning

Thunderstorms can cause lightning to deviate from its initial route and move from one item to another. This is referred to as a side flash.

A higher item, such as a tree, will be struck by lightning, which will then leap to a shorter object as the energy travels downward to the earth. A tiny item, such as a tent, serves as a short circuit to dissipate energy and is typically located within 2 feet of the source.

Ground current lightning

When lightning hits an item, such as a tree, and the energy is spread through the ground to another object, this is referred to as ground current. The current will not flow in a single direction; instead, it will strike and scatter in all directions, traveling up to 60 feet from the original strike position before striking again. In particular, ground current has been known to kill farm animals in fields because of the uneven distribution of energy and the point at which it makes contact with the ground.

Streamer lightning

Streamer lighting is less widespread than other types of illumination. When lightning strikes, a positive charge known as an upward streamer rises from the ground and connects with the negative charge of the strike. Lightning may travel from the clouds to the earth in a rapid series of 50m steps.


Metal does not attract light, yet it may operate as a conduit for the transmission of energy. Thunderstorms can hit one item and travel the length of another object, such as wire fencing, telegraph wires, or electrical wires within a home. Anyone who comes into contact with a lamp or other electrical devices runs the danger of being injured. It is for this reason why it is not recommended to touch electrical equipment during a lightning storm. During a lightning storm, it is recommended that you disconnect any electrical goods and remove an EHU before putting them in a vehicle for safety.

Camping in a thunderstorm: Is your car safer than your tent?

Rather of staying in a tent during a thunderstorm, it is better to seek shelter in your vehicle. As a result of the rubber tyres on most vehicles, the majority of people feel that they are safe during a lightning strike. This, however, is not the case. Although car tyres are insulators, they will not be able to withstand the electricity generated by a lightning strike. An incandescent bulb may be illuminated for three months by the electrical current generated by lightning. If lightning strikes a vehicle, the lightning will choose the path of least resistance.

Vehicles function as faraday cages.

When hiding in a car during a thunderstorm, the following precautions should be observed:

  • Close all of the windows. Keep all metal things out of your reach. the gear shift, grips, ignition, radio, seat adjustment bars, and other such items
  • Do not get out of the automobile
  • If you want to avoid touching anything, sit with your hands in your lap.

Why close vehicle windows during a lightning thunderstorm

The temptation to keep your windows slightly ajar during thunderstorms might be strong, especially if your car is already stuffy and you are feeling overheated. It is critical to close all windows and keep them closed during a lightning storm for your own protection. A vehicle is similar to a faraday cage in that the exterior shell will carry the electrical current while protecting the interior from being damaged. However, it is still crucial not to come into contact with any metal items within the building.

When a window is opened, the faraday shell is breached, and an electrical current can pass through the opening in the window and into the inside of the vehicle. Lighting will follow the route of least resistance, which may or may not be you or your children.

Removing fear of thunderstorms from kids

Children’s concerns can be alleviated by keeping them amused and making the entire experience enjoyable. Look at the lightning from a safe location and count together; this may sometimes help to alleviate the dread of storms, especially if the number of seconds continues to climb.

  • Books with puzzles
  • Books for easy reading
  • Cards
  • Keeping blankets in the car will allow the children to sleep and stay warm
  • Maintain a supply of food and beverages on hand.

Signs you are going to be struck by lightning

During a rainstorm, static hair can be seen. In the open, if your hair becomes static during a thunderstorm and you are outside, you are not safe. You need to go inside as soon as possible. Every one of us has rubbed a balloon into our heads and then stepped back to see our hair reach out to the balloon in the distance. If you happen to be in the thick of a thunderstorm, keep this in mind. If your hair becomes static, it indicates that the positive charges in the storm are passing through you and into the negative portion of it.

  • Metallic aftertaste Feel your arms as though the hairs on the back of your neck are sticking up
  • You’ll hear a buzzing, vibrating noise. The sensation of tingling
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Sweating

If you’re camping, go into your car or the nearest building as soon as possible.

Related questions

Counting between flashes of lightning and claps of thunder to determine how far away a storm is from you was something I always assumed was an old wives’ tale and something my mother would tell me to get rid of my phobia of thunderstorms. Counting the seconds or using a timer on your phone between lightning flashes and thunder claps will help you determine how many miles distant the storm is from your position, which is correct. The number of miles the storm is away from you may be calculated by dividing the distance by 5, and the number of kilometers can be calculated by dividing the distance by 3.

According to a fundamental safety guideline, if there is less than 30 seconds between the occurrences of lightning and thunder, it is necessary to seek shelter in a safe place or structure.

Why is there lightning but no thunder

According to the Met Office, it is impossible to have lightning without also having thunder. However, depending on your position and visibility, lighting can be seen from 150 to 200 miles away. Thunder will not be heard if it is more than ten miles distant from the location. Lighting may strike as far away as 10 miles from the center of a storm’s eye. It is advisable to seek shelter if the distance between you and your destination is less than 6 miles. Soundwaves are produced by lightning as it heats and cools the surrounding environment fast.

What to do if you are wild camping or hiking during a thunderstorm

It is quite perilous to hike or camp in the woods during thunderstorms, especially if you are on a ridge or open terrain. Be mindful of impending thunderstorms and check the weather forecast before leaving your house before you leave. Lighting can be seen from more than 150 miles away, and it is much more noticeable at nighttime. If feasible, seek lower ground as soon as possible; if this is not possible, seek refuge in a cave or a gully. Ideally, if you have the opportunity, disassemble your tent and leave the area as soon as possible, particularly if you are on higher ground.

Make a crouching position on a sleeping mat with only your feet touching the ground and your head pointing towards your knees.

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Is your “shelter” from the storm a lightning safe place? Reminders about the dangers of tents and thunderstorms.

Tents and lightning may be a fatal mix for outdoor enthusiasts who like spending time in nature. Knowing when to seek safe or “safer” shelter during thunderstorm season is an important aspect of reducing the danger of lightning damage. It is July, and the weather is hot and humid. The dog days of summer have here, and with them, the lightning storms. For those who enjoy camping or who are guests at an outdoor event in humid conditions, the chances are good that you will find yourself inside a tent in the middle of a rainstorm as the storm builds in intensity.

So, what do we need to know about tents and lightning safety, and how can we learn more?

John Gookin, author of National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Lightning, differs depending on whether we are in a “frontcountry” or a “backcountry” setting.

The backcountry, on the other hand, is described as “any region that is more than an hour’s journey away from decisive medical treatment; it should be noted that ‘travel’ in the backcountry can often encompass activities such as hiking, kayaking, or horseback riding.” Tents are frequently fitted with aluminum poles that are shaped like blunt-head LPS air terminals (see illustration) (lightning rods).

It is critical to underline that these poles do not provide any form of lightning protection or lightning safety for anybody who may be within the building.

Once the storm has gone, you may resume your outside activities or return to your tent without fear of being caught in the crossfire.

Unfortunately, tent safety in the backcountry during a thunderstorm may be incredibly difficult to do successfully.

When discussing lightning safety choices for tent occupants in the outdoors, the National Outdoor Lightning Safety Program (NOLS) emphasizes the following: Camping excursions should be planned in line with local weather patterns, avoiding periods when thunderstorms are predicted.

When feasible, choose lower terrain and ravines for tent sites.

A tragic incident occurred at Colorado’s Lookout Point in September 2007, during which a 21-year-old man (John Cowan, an enlisted army soldier in between tours in Iraq) was struck and killed while hiking with three friends.

“At 6:52 p.m., lightning hit Lookout Point, which was near the tent,” Gookin writes.

Cowan, on the other hand, was lying down and was instantaneously murdered.

El Paso Country Search and Rescue was called in to assist.” Gookin explains how a NOAA meteorologist responded to the scene and discovered evidence of many tears in the tent’s floor, but no additional damage to the structure.

a succinct overview The following are some of Gookin’s “Lessons Learned” from the tragic event: The campers were 100 yards away from parked vehicles that could have provided safe shelter.

It is critical to underline that the majority of lightning victims are only a few steps away from a safe location.

Frequently, the most effective approach for lightning risk management has three critical components: It involves three steps: 1) predicting potentially harmful weather; 2) keeping awareness of changing conditions; and 3) knowing when to flee for safety, or in certain cases, choosing a “safer” location.

More information on lightning safety and risk reduction may be found here.

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