camping in thunderstorm

STAYING SAFE WHEN CAMPING DURING A THUNDERSTORM

When there’s thunder, there’s normally lightning. It’s safe to say that you need to head for cover during a thunderstorm when you are out camping. While the best option is to take cover indoors in a building, that’s not always an option when we are camping.

BEST OPTION

The best option for staying safe during a thunderstorm is a vehicle. Any fully enclosed vehicle will do. Even if the vehicle did happen to get struck by lightning, the energy travels around the outside of the metal vehicle. You will be safe in a car, 4WD or van. Tents are definitely not the best place to stay during a thunderstorm. Even if the poles are not made of metal, you’re still likely to feel the force of lightning strike if you are inside a tent.

AVOID HIGH GROUND

If you are camping or hiking away from your vehicle, you should avoid high ground at all cost. Standing on top of a mountain during a thunderstorm is just asking for trouble. Lightning is very unpredictable but if you are the highest point, you are at risk. If you can’t find lower ground, the idea is to crouch down until the storm passes. This might sound a little extreme but this method is highly recommended if you are up exposed on high ranges in a thunderstorm.

On flat terrain, you should avoid trees and anything that gives height. A ditch or a ravine is the perfect place to wait out a thunderstorm. If you are in a wide open space, you will need to lay down and lay flat. Again, this sounds extreme, but lightning often strikes the highest point. If you are walking on flat, open ground, you are the highest spot.

If there are a number of you, you want to make sure you spread out. A group of people standing in a thunderstorm on wide, open and flat ground are the perfect target. All of you will need to get down.

WAIT UNTIL THE RUMBLE IS OVER

You should wait around 15-30 minutes after the last rumble. If you think there isn’t much chance of getting hit by lightning, I invite you to search through newspapers and news websites. Around 5 people are killed by lightning strikes each year in Australia and a great many more are badly injured.

It’s no laughing matter when someone gets hit by lightning. Lightning can contain 100 million to 1 billion volts of electricity.

 


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Jane F
jane.f@dinga.com.au

Jane loves camping, hiking and anything to do with the outdoors. She might love glamping but she will do it all.