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Survival: Lightning Myths: Busted

Knowing fact from fiction can help you avoid—and survive—a 54,000℉ strike.
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Illustrations of Myths

1.) Myth: You can hide from lightning.
Busted: No place is 100-percent safe in the backcountry, but some spots are better than others.
>> Top priority: Get low relative to nearby terrain.
>> Uniform forests are safest. Avoid open meadows, lakes, caves, rock overhangs, peaks, or ridges.
>> Best option: Go inside a building or hard-topped car.

2.) Myth: Under clear skies, you’re safe from a strike.
Busted: “Bolts from the blue” can travel and strike as far as 25 miles from storm clouds.
>> Check regional forecasts. Be alert for storms within 100 miles of your route; watch the direction they’re trending.
>> You’re within strike range if you can hear thunder. Look for shelter when (or before) thunder and lightning are 30 seconds apart.
>> Stay under cover until 30 minutes have passed since the last thunderclap.

3.) Myth: Once a person’s struck, he’s dead—and you’ll be electrocuted if you touch him.
Busted: About 90 percent of strike victims survive. After being hit, they can’t shock you—but will likely benefit from first aid.
>> Administer CPR. Almost all lightning fatalities are due to cardiac arrest. Immediate CPR may restart the heart and save a victim’s life.
>> Treat wounds. Look for and address head injuries and fractures. Burn first aid: cool with water, apply antibacterial ointment, and bandage.
>> Immediately evacuate any strike victim to a hospital.

4.) Myth: Crouching on a sleeping pad will insulate you from a direct strike.
Busted: Nothing in the backcountry insulates against a strike or ground current (the most common cause of lightning injury). Reduce exposure
to both by assuming a tucked, tight crouch.
>> Stay low. Short objects are less likely strike targets.
>> Keep your arms and feet close. Spreading them increases the severity of injuries and burns if you’re struck.
>> Don’t lie down. Minimize contact with the ground; keep your body’s footprint as small as possible.

What Your Should Know
• Get off peaks early; descend by 2 p.m. in storm season.
• Avoid exposed campsites; tents provide no electrical shelter.
• Stay 50 feet from others.
• Move off lakes and away from tall shoreline trees.
• Flee meadows; even in low terrain the tallest objects attract • strikes.
• Avoid lone tall trees.
• Anticipate nighttime storms; plan a route to safer terrain.
• Safer: ditches and dips.

Interesting Facts
• An average bolt is five miles long, one inch thick, and has • enough energy to power a headlamp for 139,500 years.
• Doh! Guys get struck 4 times as much as gals.
• 5 Seconds it takes for the sound of thunder to travel one mile

Deadliest Wilderness Sports
Whatcha doing when lightning strikes?
Fishing – 25%
Camping – 24%
Swimming -18%
Hiking – 7%


Flash Photo
Flash Photo Have to ditch camp in a storm? Learn how to set up your camera to capture the bolts you’re evading.
Click Here.

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