How to Survive a Lightning Storm While Camping

Sometimes, the worst can happen when you are out in the open. Storms are often bad news, but lighting storms bring a unique type of danger when it comes to camping. Lightning storms can come suddenly, with no warning at all. Over 50 Americans are killed each year by lightning strikes, as the movement of these storm-based bolts of electricity is very fast and unpredictable.

Thanks to modern devices and inventions, there are several ways to combat lightning storms and find environments that are safer than ever before. But there are still a few important things that you need to be aware of so that you can properly know how to survive a lightning storm while camping.

Look at the Clouds

While some lightning storms can come without warning, there are a few ways to tell when a storm is about to hit. Check for the cloud formations. If you see clouds building rapidly, even in the distance, you should start preparing for lightning safety.

If You are Stuck in the Forest

If you are in the middle of a forest during a lightning storm, it is best to find a dry and low area. Try finding a ravine with a small cluster of trees. You can take shelter in these trees, as long as there are larger trees around them. Stay away from individual large trees or lonesome standing objects like rocks or other plants.

If You are Stuck in an Open Field

Being in an open area is quite possibly one of the most dangerous places to be during a lightning storm. But the most important thing to remember is that you should not panic. Stay calm, and follow the directions. Just like being in a forest, you will want to find a dry and low-reaching area, such as a valley. Then, you want to make sure you are the smallest or shortest target. Make other objects taller than you by crouching down with your head between your knees.

If You are Stuck in Another Outdoors Area

If you are outdoors, but not in a forest or open space, there are other ways to stay safe. If you are near anything like a car, you can take shelter in there. The aluminum will often protect you from a lightning strike if one should happen to hit your car. ( Do not seek shelter in a tent. It is also best to avoid areas with water in them, as this can cause a flash flood.

Do Not Remove Electronic Devices

There is a myth surrounding lightning that makes people believe that lightning will be attracted to the electronics and metal devices on your body. This is actually false, and there is no danger in having these devices. ( Therefore, you should not spend the time needed to remove these items. Instead, spend time seeking the proper shelter and understanding what body position to move into in the event that you are in an unsafe area. If you are near an object that can conduct electricity, like a power line or a metal pole in your backpack, these are definitely dangerous and should be removed from your person immediately. (

Seek Emergency Care

In the event that you are struck by lightning (crouching and holding your breath can reduce the effects of the strike if you feel like you are about to be struck), be sure to seek emergency care. Calling 911 or calling out for medical support is well worth it. If you or a friend is injured, it is advised to wait until after the storm has passed completely to check out each other’s injuries. If a severe storm is likely, it is advisable to avoid camping all together.