Lightning safety when hiking

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chumley
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Lightning safety when hiking

Post by chumley » Jul 06 2015 10:56 am

I was just reading up on lightning safety and thought it would be good to refresh the basics. So many hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in Arizona are vulnerable to lightning each year (especially during the summer monsoon). It is good to know the good and the bad.

The first and most important thing is that there is no such thing as a safe place outdoors during an electrical storm. None. Period.

If at all possible, get inside a modern building and stay away from metal. The second best alternative if you are outdoors is to get inside an enclosed vehicle with a metal roof. Convertibles, canvas top Jeeps or the bed of a pickup truck offer no protection from a strike.

Lightning Position
If shelter is not available the safest thing you can do is get in the "lightning position". Scientists are not aware of anybody having ever been injured in a lightning strike while in the lightning position.

To get in the lightning position, you should squat as low as possible to the ground and keep your feet together. Wrap your arms around your knees. Do this on a foam sleeping pad or pile of clothes if available. Close your eyes. Space yourself 50-feet from other members of your group in case somebody is injured, others will be able to help.

Understand how lightning strikes to minimize the potential that you become a streamer. In terrain with tall trees, mountains and ridges you can help identify risk areas and minimize those risks.

In rolling hills or flat, open desert, lightning strikes are much more random, and the only thing you can do is look for a ravine of some kind. Just a few feet of height can make a difference. It is why the lightning position is significantly better than standing up.

The National Weather Service has a website for lightning safety outdoors. It basically says "get indoors". http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.shtml

Must-Read Guide
But the website also provides a link to a PDF published by The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). If you go outside regularly you should read this. Read it again until you understand it and remember it. There is a ton of useful information in it.
Attachments
NOLS Backcountry Lightning Safety Guidelines.pdf
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Highway to hell

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chumley
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by chumley » Jan 02 2018 5:25 pm

Lightning killed 16 people in 2017, the fewest deaths since accurate records began in 1940, the National Weather Service said. This broke the previous record low of 23, set in 2013, weather service meteorologist John Jensenius said.

The number of people killed by lightning in recent years a far cry from annual lightning deaths decades ago: In the 1940s, for instance, hundreds of people were killed each year by lightning. In 1943 alone, 432 people died.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/ ... 996949001/

Strange statistic: on average, only 21% of lightning victims are female.

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azbackpackr
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 02 2018 5:40 pm

chumley wrote:only 21% of lightning victims are female
Farmers, fishermen and golfers are predominantly male, right?
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chumley
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by chumley » Jan 02 2018 6:00 pm

@azbackpackr
In a yesteryear, kind of backwards, sexist thinking, sure. But it's 2018 now!

I probably would have just gone with "women are smarter than men".
:)
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The_Eagle
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by The_Eagle » Jan 02 2018 6:17 pm

@chumley
Men make better lightning rods too!
Males of average height have about 4 grams of iron in their body, females about 3.5 grams
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
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azbackpackr
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 02 2018 7:10 pm

chumley wrote:I probably would have just gone with "women are smarter than men".
:)
I appreciate your attempt at fairness. But I'm a realist. Not that women aren't smarter than men...
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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DbleDutch
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by DbleDutch » Aug 24 2018 3:51 pm

@chumley

Thanks, a Great reminder and article. I have witnessed the power of lightning, when it struck a power pole 50' away while sitting in a vehicle. Pole and all the power lines out from it where set ablaze.
The Sweetheart and I while hiking on the flat top of the rim where suddenly in a violent lightning storm. It had been raining for awhile and the ground had puddles and saturated ground everywhere and miles to go for a safer place. We did most things right by taking the lightning position, on a flat rock, in a small opening, surrounded by trees. We did not shed our daypacks or remove any jewelry: did not know to or think of it. We did not separate, but the comfort of each other and praying helped us mentally. Multiple simultaneous lightning/thunder strikes in 15 - 20 minutes had us scared ****less. It started quickly with a strike, 1, 2, thunder, said trouble was on us. Like the article says do not delay, improve your surroundings and take the lightning position.
Avoid the HAZards that you can and keep hiking!

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trekkin_gecko
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by trekkin_gecko » Sep 02 2018 10:05 am

last night Nebraska's football home opener was delayed by lightning and ultimately cancelled
the rule is to clear the field if lightning strikes within eight miles, then wait 30 minutes after
if lightning strikes again, the 30 minute clock starts over
I realize this is all about safety, but there is no discretion/flexibility in resuming play if a storm cell moves off sooner
new cells were moving in within each 30 minute window, with one huge storm
after almost three hours, they called the game - doubtful it could have been completed even without the 30 minute rule

our radius at work is now three miles; used to be five
I think that's too little
i'm not going outside when lightning is striking that close

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Sun_Ray
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by Sun_Ray » Sep 02 2018 12:04 pm

I know a camera man, actually a women who was working the game and posted on Facebook some very close lighting pics. Thanks for the reminder of the safety rules.
Brian
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chumley
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by chumley » Sep 02 2018 1:46 pm

@trekkin_gecko I’ve read about instances where DEN shuts down completely due to lightning and the requirement for any ground crews on the ramp to go indoors and wait 30 minutes from the last strike. Puts a huge crunch on an airport when that happens!!
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te_wa
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by te_wa » Sep 03 2018 3:32 pm

MtnBart01 wrote:I find it interesting that people think cars are safe
lightning can easily blow out rubber tires. they are not a very reliable source of insulation for a strike of a Billion volts trying to get to ground. however, this is far better than standing under a tree.

i guess thanks to todd, i will now have to refrain from shaking my carbon fiber hiking pole in the air like a call to arms while chiding Zeus himself.. "come at me, bro" might not be the best choice of words. ?
Last edited by te_wa on Sep 03 2018 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
:D

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joebartels
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by joebartels » Sep 03 2018 3:34 pm

@te_wa
no, but it was an interesting visual
Hike Arizona it ROCKS!

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te_wa
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Re: Lightning safety when hiking

Post by te_wa » Sep 03 2018 3:36 pm

chumley wrote:go indoors and wait 30 minutes from the last strike. Puts a huge crunch on an airport when that happens!!
on most of my jobsites, the GC will shut a job down when lightning is reported within 10 mile range of the building (even after lightning protection has been installed on the structure). last year at the Banner health on mcdowell, we had to go home a couple of days due to summer storms. once, at around 10 am.
:D

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