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Backpacker Magazine – October 2011

Survival: Lightning Attire

What not to wear in a lightning storm.

by: Matt Walker





My friend Betsy and I were on the final pitch up the Grand Teton when a huge lightning storm blew in from the west and began striking the rock around us. We tried to find cover but couldn’t on the exposed monolith. While hunkered down, we were both struck multiple times: me, in the foot, leg, torso, and left biceps. For Betsy, the most powerful strike went straight through the metal backing on her watch. The strike came out the end of her finger, and the digit had to be amputated.

Lesson:
When lightning is near, remove watches, jewelry, any metal.



Sea Kayak Flip
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No Water in the Desert
Annette McGivney, BACKPACKER Southwest editor

Sea Kayak Flip
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Predict a Flash Flood
Ken Phillips, Chief of Emergency Services, Grand Canyon National Park

Ventilate a Tent
Shannon Davis, BACKPACKER senior editor

BYO Survival Gear
Chris Thomas, mountaineer




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READERS COMMENTS

john
Jul 15, 2012

just because something on the television shoe Myth Busters (a television show with scientifically inept actors portraying pseudo scientific experiments) was so called "busted", does not mean it is still just a myth. I have had many lightning experiences myself while growing up in the Colorado rockies that closely mirror this experience.

john
Jul 15, 2012

just because something on the television shoe Myth Busters (a television show with scientifically inept actors portraying pseudo scientific experiments) was so called "busted", does not mean it is still just a myth. I have had many lightning experiences myself while growing up in the Colorado rockies that closely mirror this experience.

This is a myth
Nov 11, 2011

Check out Mythbusters episode on lightning strikes and metal jewlery.

Steven Lindeman
Nov 11, 2011

This is tough to do. Metal zippers on coat and backpack; if I continue to hike where do I put my hiking poles?

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